Sarah Cooley earns prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship for Fall 2015

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Sarah Cooley earns prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship for Fall 2015


Cooley will pursue a master’s in polar studies at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge


(Chapel Hill, N.C.—Feb. 12, 2015) – Sarah Cooley, a senior Morehead-Cain Scholar and geological sciences major and mathematics minor, is a recipient of the 2015 Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She is the third Gates Cambridge Scholar for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


“It still hasn’t fully hit me yet, but I am so excited to have the opportunity to go to Cambridge next year to be a part of the Gates community,” said Cooley. “It’s a really incredible opportunity.”


Cooley is among 40 U.S. students selected Wednesday from 755 applicants for the scholarship. Recipients are chosen based on academic excellence, leadership potential, a commitment to improving the lives of others, and being in accord with the mission of Cambridge. The award, created with a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a merit-based scholarship that covers all expenses of graduate studies at Cambridge.


“Sarah’s dedication to research is exceptional, and I believe she will continue to thrive in her studies at Cambridge,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “Sarah shows students dedicated to pursing excellence what bright, motivated people can achieve, and we’re so very proud of her.”


Cooley, from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, is the daughter of Allene Adams and the late Peter Cooley. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and is currently writing a senior honors thesis. Cooley has conducted undergraduate research in glaciology and arctic hydrology, including examining trends in the timing of the Siberian River ice breakup using satellite imagery in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Global Hydrology Lab and studying the surface strain rates on the Taku Glacier in southeast Alaska through the Juneau Icefield Research Program.


Cooley plans to pursue a master’s degree in polar studies at the University of Cambridge, conducting research at the Scott Polar Research Institute with a focus on researching tidewater glaciers and basal hydrology in West Greenland. She hopes to one day be a professor at a research university.


“The Scott Polar Research Institute is a world-leader in studying the Arctic,” said Cooley. “The second I found out about Scott Polar and the research they did, I realized it was perfect for me.”


At UNC-Chapel Hill, Cooley serves as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador through the Office for Undergraduate Research, is an Admissions Ambassador through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and serves as an executive board member for the Order of the Bell Tower.


The Gates Cambridge Scholars have come from over 100 countries and more than 500 universities across the globe. The scholarship covers the costs of studying at Cambridge. Recipients pursue a second bachelor’s degree, one year of postgraduate courses or research leading to the Ph.D. in the sciences, humanities and social sciences.




Gates Cambridge Scholarship press release:


Office of Distinguished Scholarships contacts: Mary Floyd-Wilson, (919) 843-7764,; and Alsace Gallop, (919) 843-7757,; @ODS_UNCCH


Communications and Public Affairs contact: Helen Buchanan, (919) 962-2092,