Fellowships and Opportunities


Vincent Kim–Gates Cambridge

Name: Vincent Kim

Class Year: 2014

Hometown: Grand Blanc, MI

Major(s): Physics, Global Politics

Minors or Concentrations: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Opportunity and Year: Gates Cambridge Scholarship, 2014

Project Summary: At Cambridge, I studied the fundamental physics behind semiconductors in order to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells and light-emitting devices. This research could lead to cheap, flexible, lightweight solar cells that would allow us to harness solar power in more convenient ways to meet the energy demands of people who live far from electric grids.

How did W&L prepare you for this opportunity? I had the wonderful opportunity to do two summers of physics research with Dr. Dan Mazilu and Dr. Irina Mazilu. I was able to work through the process of performing experiments and publishing results in a journal of statistical physics. W&L allowed me to study abroad in three countries, and I was even able to take physics, math, and international relations courses (taught in Spanish) at the University of Granada in Spain. The physics, politics, and math departments at W&L were very accommodating in accepting credits.

The Shepherd Program added valuable perspective to my physics and politics studies. I was even able to intern with Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta to help refugees from around the world adjust to living in Georgia, and I got a better perspective of the nature of poverty in the United States. Indeed, along with curiosity, the goal of eradicating poverty strongly motivates me to pursue a physics PhD and develop better forms of energy and electronic devices.


Why did you apply for this opportunity? I applied for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship because I wanted to make exciting physics discoveries and use them to enrich the lives of communities around the world. A key aspect of the scholarship is a commitment to global service, which I maintained during my four years in the Shepherd Program at W&L.

Post-graduation Plans: Currently, as a data scientist at Feedzai, I help make commerce and banking safe by fighting fraud with artificial intelligence and big data. My physics PhD experience as a Gates Cambridge scholar and undergraduate experiences with research, advanced analytics, and statistics prepared me for my career in data science where I use machine learning to develop fraud detection and anti-money laundering solutions.

How will this opportunity help you achieve your goals? The Gates Cambridge scholarship allowed me to develop valuable research skills and connected me to a diverse, international professional network.

Extracurricular Involvement:

Captain of the Tennis Team
Percussionist in the University Wind Ensemble
Co-Chair of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages, a W&L organization that provides English instruction, tutoring, and translation for members of the community and abroad)

Off-campus Experience:

I studied in Costa Rica for Spring Term 2011, at the University of Granada in Spain for the Fall Term 2011, and Kanazawa Japan for Spring Term 2012. I went on and eventually led an ESOL Feb Break trip to teach English to elementary school children in Najayo, Dominican Republic in 2011, 2012, and 2013. In 2014, I worked on an W&L Engineers Without Borders project in Guatemala installing water sanitation filters in rural communities.

Research Experience:

Optoelectronics Group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge

  • PhD in physics studying organic semiconductors, organic solar cells, and light-emitting devices using ultrafast laser spectroscopy
  • Gates Cambridge Scholar

Department of Physics and Engineering, Washington and Lee University

  • Statistical physics research in stochastic adsorption with Profs. Dan Mazilu and Irina Mazilu
  • Published findings in the Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment
  • Attended the XXV IUPAP International Conference of Statistical Physics in Seoul, South Korea

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