Not 'Just One Thing'

Gates Scholar is crossing fields

Gates Scholar: Stepheni Uh
Courtesy of Stepheni Uh

Stepheni Uh 14C is one of thirty-five recipients nationwide of the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which funds graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England.

Uh plans to pursue a PhD through Cambridge’s MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, focusing on the neurophysiological foundations of resilience in children growing up in poverty, in hopes of developing methods that promote mental and emotional stamina in children of all backgrounds.

Currently Uh works with clients at the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and she is helping to develop a centralized database for the various markers of autism, which could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

A native of Boise, Idaho, Uh planned to study political science and go to law school, but an entry-level biology class changed all that. Uh began studying with Sherab Tenzin, oneof the first Tibetan Buddhist monks to study with the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative.

It was Tenzin’s questions about what scientific knowledge means for humanity that shifted her focus from law school to a PhD in science.

She went on to complete graduate-level neuroethics courses and conduct research in three neuroscience labs, two at Emory and one at New York University, on topics ranging from the neurobiological influence on paternal nurturance to the cognitive effects of cardiovascular exercise.

“There is so much pressure to study just one thing, and I can’t stress enough the impact Emory had on me realizing it doesn’t have to be that way,” Uh says. “I found it so incredibly clarifying to learn how so many fields come together, and need to, for there to be progress.”

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