Rice U. graduate student wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Rice University
Office of Public Affairs / News & Media Relations


Katharine Shilcutt

Rice U. graduate student wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

HOUSTON — (Feb. 16, 2018) — Rice University’s Brett Gutstein is one of 35 American students awarded a 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholarship for graduate studies at the University of Cambridge in England. Gutstein, a Houstonian, obtained his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from Rice last year and will complete his master’s degree in computer science this May.

Brett Gutstein

Brett Gutstein

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship, established with a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge, is given to only 1 percent of approximately 5,000 applicants for the prestigious program each year. Gutstein is the second Rice graduate student to receive this honor.

The scholarship recognizes students of outstanding academic merit and leadership potential from every country of the world — other than the United Kingdom — who are committed to serving their communities and who have obtained admission to the University of Cambridge. The stated aim of the program is to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others. To that end, it seeks students in possession of outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential and a commitment to improving the lives of others.

Gutstein spent his junior year at Cambridge in a special exchange program between Rice and Trinity College and will be returning to his previous research group, which focuses on architectural computer security.

“It’s a technical field concerned with securing information and computing resources at the lowest levels of a computer, like the hardware and the software operating system,” Gutstein said. “I’m excited to pursue a Ph.D. in that field because besides being technically interesting, it also has a significant positive impact on society.”

Gutstein’s ultimate goal is to use applied computer science in support of humanitarian and societal issues, including protecting the environment, defending human rights, improving global health and effectively regulating technology. “I believe computing is a powerful and liberating tool that, if applied properly, can continue to make an enormous positive impact on our world,” he said. “As a Gates Scholar and doctoral student at Cambridge, I hope to develop my technical expertise and work on impactful projects for the common good.”

During his time as an undergraduate at Rice, Gutstein was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was heavily involved with various on-campus organizations, including HackRice and a cappella group Nocturnal, the latter of which he served as president. “At Rice, I grew tremendously as a leader and a person,” Gutstein said. “I’m still at the beginning of my career as a leader, and I’m honored that the Gates Trust saw potential in me.”

For a complete list of the 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholars, visit gatescambridge.org/our-scholars/new-scholars.


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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,970 undergraduates and 2,934 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.