Victoria Student Gets Ticket to Cambridge

Felix Barber
Wellingtonian Felix Barber

A Victoria University student is the only New Zealander this year to be awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, to study at a postgraduate level at the University of Cambridge.

Barber, who is graduating in May with a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours (majoring in Mathematics and Physics), was one of 51 students from 24 countries to be awarded the Gates Scholarship, which will allow him to study for his Master’s in Applied Mathematics. Globally, more than 3,500 students applied for the scholarships, which assess intellectual ability, leadership capacity, academic fit with Cambridge and the applicant’s commitment to improving the lives of others.

Barber's award comes after recent success with the William Georgetti Scholarship, which awarded him $180,000 over three years to support the PhD study he hopes to begin at Cambridge after his Master’s degree. The William Georgetti Scholarship is aimed at encouraging postgraduate study and research in a field that is important to the social, cultural or economic development of New Zealand.

"It’s exciting to be awarded these two scholarships and I am very grateful," says Barber. "I am keen to take full advantage of any opportunities that come my way in the UK to do interesting and exciting work, so that I can one day give back to New Zealand."

Barber, who originally planned a career as a journalist before realising he was "actually quite good at physics", plans to focus on research into condensed matter physics or biophysics.

"I want to expand my knowledge base into these areas because I think they will allow me to do work that will have the greatest impact on the lives of others. My hope for the future is to produce research in a dynamic area of physics that can have a positive impact on serious world issues, such as the development of technologies to facilitate sustainable human existence."

Outside of study, Barber sings in the Wellington Youth Choir, is a keen mountain biker and is learning Spanish. He was also responsible for co-founding the Victoria University Science Society to provide both