Auburn University senior, alumnus named finalists for Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Paul Bergen and Jimmy KaczmarekAUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University student Jimmy Kaczmarek and 2012 graduate Paul Bergen have been selected as finalists for the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Of all the nation’s public universities, only four – Auburn, UC-Berkeley, UCLA and Rutgers – can claim two finalists per institution.

Kaczmarek, a senior in chemical engineering who is conducting research under the direction of Mark Byrne, Breeden Associate Professor in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, will graduate in May. He holds a 3.97 grade point average. If awarded the scholarship, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in medical sciences within the Department of Oncology at Cambridge. Last spring he was named a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention, a national award for undergraduates in the fields of science, technology, mathematics and engineering.

“Jimmy has a made a substantial impact at Auburn in a number of areas both inside and outside the classroom,” said Byrne. “He has done exceptional research work in my lab for the past two years while working on his honor’s thesis while at the same time serving as trumpet section leader in the Auburn University marching band.”

Bergen graduated last spring with a 3.97 GPA with a double major in microbiology and German. A current Fulbright Scholar in Germany, Bergen is continuing research at the Technical University of Munich that he began at Auburn under the guidance of professor Mark Liles in the Department of Biological Sciences. If awarded the scholarship, Bergen plans to pursue a Ph.D. in pathology at Cambridge with a focus on how bacteria express their genomes and how pathogenic bacteria cause disease.

“Paul has the kind of qualities that I look for in a student, someone who is curious about science and the larger world,” said Liles. “He was able to excel at both microbiology and becoming fluent in German. Not only did he earn bachelor’s degrees in both subjects, but earned top honors in both colleges.”

The scholarship program is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates through the Gates Cambridge Trust. This year nearly 1,000 applicants from the United States applied and from that number the Trust selected 90 to interview in Washington, D.C., in early February for 30 available scholarships.

Paul Harris, associate director for national prestigious scholarships at Auburn, said, “Jimmy and Paul are not only inquisitive and engaging young scholars, but both share a range of intellectual and cultural interests, music and foreign language, which spans their respective disciplines. It is this rare combination which made them such strong applicants for the award. They will represent Auburn well at the national competition.”

Gates Cambridge Scholarships are awarded to college students and recent graduates based on four criteria: intellectual ability; leadership capacity; a desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to their communities and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others; and demonstrating a good fit between the applicants’ abilities and aspirations to the graduate program.

Contact: Paul Harris, Honors College, (334) 844-8731 (paul.harris@auburn.edu), or

Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)