Hu, Norwitz selected as Gates Cambridge Scholars

'19 alum Chase Antonacci also selected

Sabrina Hu and Sam Norwitz
Hu and Norwitz will join a cohort of 23 American students at Cambridge University in the fall.

Washington University in St. Louis seniors Sabrina Hu and Sam Norwitz are among the 23 U.S. students who have been selected for the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which fully funds postgraduate study and research at the University of Cambridge. Chase Antonacci, a 2019 alumnus, also has been named a scholar.

Hu, of Houston, is majoring in chemistry and in history and minoring in mathematics in Arts & Sciences. She was named a 2022 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar and has conducted research in several Washington University labs, including the lab of Kevin Moeller, a professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences. In addition, Hu is a carbon neutrality intern in the Office of Sustainability and a volunteer tutor at two St. Louis Public Schools high schools. She previously served as an aspirational peer mentor for the Deneb STARS program.

At Cambridge, Hu plans to earn a PhD in chemistry, studying the synthesis and host-guest chemistry of a particular class of supramolecular cages, which will have applications in desalination and industrial chemical and gas separations.

“My formative years were shaped by a backdrop of natural destruction, catastrophes on such a scale that made human efforts seem almost inconsequential,” wrote Hu, whose home was partially destroyed by Hurricane Ike. “It is easy to feel helpless in the face of the flood, but discovering my love for chemistry and aptitude for research has lit a fire underneath me to fight climate change the way that I know how.”

Norwitz, of Newton, Mass., is majoring in neuroscience and minoring in children’s studies in Arts & Sciences. Norwitz has conducted research at the Cognitive Control and Psychopathology Laboratory and the Human Connectome Project under the mentorship of Deanna Barch, the Gregory B. Couch Professor of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine, professor of psychological and brain sciences and vice dean of research in Arts & Sciences. Norwitz also serves as a research assistant and MRI technician in the laboratory of Alecia Vogel-Hammen, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine.

He also founded Washington University Special Olympics and serves as president of the Synapse Neuroscience Club. 

Norwitz, who also received an NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholarship, plans to earn a PhD in medical science, exploring the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying the cognitive deficits and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in Down syndrome. Norwitz wrote that his early experiences coaching children with neurodevelopmental disorders sparked his interest in neuroscience. 

“My long-term goal is to become a physician-scientist with a focus on pediatric neuroscience, seeking international dialogue and research collaboration in bettering the lives of children with neurodevelopmental challenges,” Norwitz wrote. 

Chase Antonacci, of Tulsa, Okla., graduated in 2019 with degree in philosophy-neuroscience-psychology from Arts & Sciences. He plans to earn a PhD in psychiatry and will study how childhood exposure to acute stress impacts cognitive, social and emotional development.

“Given the scale and prevalence of early adversity and the profound impact on global mental health and well-being, understanding these biological mechanisms is of critical importance for developing intervention targets and preventing the onset of psychopathology in at-risk youth,” Antonacci wrote.

The scholarship was established in 2000 through a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.