MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Ben Morris ’22, a molecular biology and biochemistry major from Watertown, Massachusetts, has been awarded a Keasbey Scholarship, which provides funding for postgraduate study at select British universities.
Morris, a 2021 Goldwater Scholar, plans to earn his MPhil in pathology at the University of Cambridge, where he has been invited by Dr. Rahul Roychoudhuri to study regulatory T cells (Tregs) and the regulation of the immune system.
“Tregs are less well studied than other immune cells yet play important roles in inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer,” says Morris. “Further research into Tregs development and function has implications for better understanding the immune system and developing targeted treatments to cancers, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.”
American students who receive Keasbey Scholarships are awarded up to two years of full funding, including tuition, fees, and living expenses, either for a second undergraduate degree or to attend a graduate program at Oxford, Cambridge, or Edinburgh University.
As an undergraduate, Morris has worked extensively with Assistant Professor of Biology Greg Pask, researching olfactory receptors in insects. He says this work has given him an excellent research foundation and he looks forward to building off the genetic techniques he used in the Pask lab while pursuing research in his primary field of interest, immunology.
One of the many amazing things about Ben is his insatiable and contagious curiosity,” says Greg Pask. “He has so many diverse interests, both in and out of science. His opportunity as a Keasbey Fellow should be transformative as he explores new avenues in science while experiencing life in a new region of the world.”
Because the Cambridge MPhil is completely research-based, Morris says he had to investigate various labs to see who was doing work that interested him and, equally important, who might allow him to join their team. He set his sights on Roychoudhuri’s lab due to his focus on immune regulation and was thrilled to be approved.
“This is an area of immunology that is understudied,” says Morris, “so this research could have both major clinical relevance and implications for our understanding of the immune system.”
Morris says his work in immune regulation at Cambridge through the Keasbey program will help him narrow his focus for eventual PhD studies and a career in research.
“I’m thrilled Ben will have this opportunity to deepen his research skills and immerse himself in the cutting-edge science happening at Cambridge, said Lisa Gates, associate dean for fellowships and research. “He has worked hard for this and it’s wonderful to see this opportunity come to fruition with the support of the Keasbey Foundation.”
For more information about the Keasbey and other national scholarships and fellowships, visit the Middlebury Fellowships Office.