Gates scholarship opens doors for alumna

Monash alumna Emma Nicholls (BA(Hons) 2008) has been awarded a 2014 Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Ms Nicholls was one of seven Australians selected for the scholarship this year. She is among...

Monash alumna Emma Nicholls (BA(Hons) 2008) has been awarded a 2014 Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Ms Nicholls was one of seven Australians selected for the scholarship this year. She is among scholars from a broad range of countries, including Afghanistan, Madagascar, Indonesia, Macedonia and Dominica.

A chronic illness during high school prevented Ms Nicholls from completing year 12, but with a clear goal in sight, Ms Nicholls enrolled in Open Learning, which enabled entry into a Monash University Arts Degree.

Ms Nicholls is extremely excited to begin her PhD in History at The University of Cambridge this October, and feels privileged to have the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“I am grateful to the Gates Foundation for this incredible opportunity, and can’t wait to get started at Cambridge. It is an extraordinary intellectual community,” Ms Nicholls said.

Her research focuses on the late medieval period, investigating the intersection between economic and political structures of control and the workings of imagination.

Ms Nicholls is also passionate about ensuring that people overcoming disadvantage of all kinds have access to education.

“Alongside my own studies, I am keen to use my time at Cambridge to develop better ways of sharing the excitement and potential of research in the humanities with the broader community,” Ms Nicholls said.

Ms Nicholls attributes much of her success to being part of an extremely active network of historians and postgraduates at Monash. She feels that Medieval and Renaissance Studies - a strength of the University - is a particularly exciting field to be working in at Monash right now.

Associate Professor Peter Howard, who is the Head of the new Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, supervised Ms Nicholls during her Master's.

“Emma exhibits remarkable theoretical sophistication, superb and painstaking research skills, finely honed analytical proficiency, all communicated in beautiful, accessible prose. More than just intellectually exceptional, she is a generous, wonderful person - qualities recognised by the Gates’ award,” Professor Howard said.