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Drexel's 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholar

February 16, 2018

Congratulations to Nicholas Barber, 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholar!

We are delighted to announce that Drexel senior Nicholas (Nick) Barber (BS Geoscience '18, Honors) received the 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Nick is one of 35 scholars selected from across the United States and just the second student in Drexel history to receive this prestigious award, which recognizes and supports outstanding students to pursue a graduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge.


Nicholas (Nick) Barber is a fifth year Geoscience major who has distinguished himself at Drexel through his research and outreach on campus and beyond. Nick is the recipient of numerous university awards, as well as the nationally-competitive NOAA Hollings Scholarship and Goldwater Scholarship for outstanding promise in math and science.

Nick began his undergraduate research experience in the Drexel Paleontology Lab, first as a volunteer and continuing as a 2014 STAR Scholars program student researcher. Under the guidance of Ken Lacovera, PhD, and PhD candidate Anna Jaworski, Nick studied the relationship between grain size parameters and sediment transfer dynamics along barrier islands in the Delaware Bay. This experience was transformative for Nick, who then undertook a research co-op working with Jerry Mead, PhD at the Academy of Natural Sciences on a project to build a model of freshwater stream energetics. Since 2015, Nick has conducted research with Loÿc Vanderkluysen to examine the structure, scale, and environmental impact of the Deccan Traps, an extinct volcanic province in western India.

During the summer of 2017, Nick conducted research as part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Lab team to model seafloor deformation leading up the 2015 eruption of Axial Seamount in the Northeast Pacific. He also participated in a Drexel gas monitoring study at geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park.

Throughout his time at Drexel, Nick has demonstrated impressive initiative and energy in his research, as well as in his efforts to share that research with the world. He is particularly eager to build partnerships with UK researchers and has already begun collaborating with Dr. Anne Jay of the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK, to develop a robust modeling technique to estimate the volume of lava flows.

Nick’s initiative in pursuing collaborative research within the geology community reflects his drive, as well as his belief in the importance of international collaborations in conducting geologic research, both to advance research and to save lives. To this end, Nick has recently taken steps to teach himself to build an online database of volcanic rock geochemistry, with the goal of making the data available to scientists worldwide. Nick is a member of the SuperNova Undergraduate Research Fellows program and has presented his research at multiple national and international conferences, including the 2017 British Conference on Undergraduate Research at Bournemouth University.

In addition to excelling in academics and research, Nick has contributed much to the Drexel community. Nick served as the first President of the Undergraduate Research Leaders (URL) program in 2016-17 and has continued to be an active member, helping to expand and institutionalize the group, as well as to establish a successful peer mentor program and promote the popular Nerd Night undergraduate speaker series. He also served as President (2016-17) and Vice President (2017-18) of the Drexel Paleontology and Geology Club.

Nicholas is the second Drexel student to receive the Gates Cambridge Scholarship since the award was established in 2000. At Cambridge, Nick plans to pursue a PhD in Earth Science and seeks to explain the behavior of trace metals in volcanic systems. He aims to use a combination of fieldwork, trace element analysis, and novel isotopic chemistry to better understand the pathways metals take through volcanoes with the goal of improving models of eruption forecasts.

As a 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholar, Nick is one of just 35 outstanding candidates selected from across the United States. The Scholars-elect represent 39 universities and 19 states and will pursue subjects ranging from Neuroscience to Music, with 20 coming to Cambridge to undertake a three-year PhD and 15 for a one-year masters. To view a full list of scholars and Nick's Scholar Profile, please visit:

In late March the Trust will interview candidates from other countries and offer additional scholarships. A full press release for the entire class of 2018 will then be available in early April at 

About the Gates Cambridge Scholarship

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is a prestigious, highly competitive full-cost scholarship awarded to outstanding applicants from countries outside the UK to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. The programme aims to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

The Gates Trust seeks to identify men and women of proven academic ability and of considerable potential for further development, who would benefit from AND contribute to advanced work in Cambridge. In addition, the Trust is looking for those who will use the benefits of higher education to make a real difference in whatever career they pursue. Gates Scholars have to be excellent students academically, well qualified to take up a course in Cambridge and capable of making a serious contribution to knowledge and the uses to which that knowledge is put. These Scholars will be leaders in a huge range of professions and callings. They will remain linked with each other, and with the University of Cambridge and its Colleges, throughout their lives, thus forming an international network of influence and understanding.

To learn more about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship and how to apply at Drexel, visit our Gates Cambridge Scholarship page or email!