William & Mary

Oreska ('07) named Gates Cambridge Scholar; 3rd for W&M

Matthew Oreska. Courtesy photo. (Williamsburg, Va.) – A College of William and Mary alumnus was recently named among the 2008 Gates Cambridge Scholars. Matthew Oreska (’07), currently a substitute teacher at the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, Va., is the third William and Mary graduate to receive the scholarship.

“I am extremely honored to be a recipient of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship,” Oreska said in an e-mail.

Established in 2001, the Gates Cambridge Scholar program enables outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to study at the University of Cambridge. According to the Web site, scholars are chosen based on their intellectual ability, leadership capacity and 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.

Oreska graduated from William and Mary as a double major in geology and economics. During his time at the College, he was involved in several organizations including the Geology Club and the Student Environmental Action Coalition. Oreska said that several William and Mary professors influenced his interests, including Greg Hancock, associate professor of geology, and John Swaddle, associate professor of biology. He also said that his experience working on Chesapeake Bay mollusks with Rowan Lockwood, associate professor of geology of William and Mary, inspired him to apply for the biology program at Cambridge to study molluscan ecosystems.

Next month, Oreska will begin an internship at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on the Chesapeake Bay where he will study invasive species ecology. He leaves for his year-long term at Cambridge in October of this year. During his time at Cambridge, he will pursue a Masters of Philosophy degree in biological science.

“Gaining prerequisite biology experience through a Masters of Philosophy funded by the Gates Scholarship will allow me to pursue my intermediate goal of studying ecology at the doctoral level,” he said.

While pursuing his degree at Cambridge, Oreska will investigate the effects of stream diversion on aquatic ecosystems and the impact of human-resource demands on ecosystems.

“Mitigating adverse effects will require an interdisciplinary approach and the cooperation of public, private, and research entities,” he said. “My experience at Cambridge will hopefully instruct me as to the direction from which I should address ecosystem impact problems. In addition, I am anxious to know just how human activities are affecting the aquatic ecosystems I will be studying.”

Oreska was among 45 people awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships in the United States this year. He follows William and Mary graduates Eric Koskinen and Ian Ralby who received the scholarship last year.

For more information on the Gates Cambridge program, visit www.gatesscholar.org.

Media contact

Erin Zagursky