Michael's Story

Michael CalzadillaMichael Calzadilla
Class of Spring 2015
2015 Gates-Cambridge Scholarship
2014 Goldwater Scholarship

Michael Calzadilla was named a Gates-Cambridge Scholar in 2015, and he was the first USF recipient of this scholarship. He was one of 40 recipients selected from the United States. This global scholarship, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides funding for graduate work at Cambridge University for intellectually outstanding students who have a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others. Applicants must be accepted into Cambridge University first before being considered for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. At Cambridge University, Michael will study for an MPhil in Astronomy with Drs. A. Fabian and V. Belokurov.

Michael is an alumnus of USF Honors College and College of Arts and Sciences, double majoring in Physics and Mathematics with a minor in Astronomy.  He is a 2014 recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship for research science.

In Summer 2014, Michael participated in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the MIT Haystack Observatory. His project involved "Observing Black Holes with the Event Horizon Telescope" under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Rusen Lu and Dr. Vincent Fish. Michael was selected for and participated in the NSF REU in Astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Summer 2013, working with Dr. Christine Jones.

Michael's Honors College thesis was the launching of an interdisciplinary project on the USF Tampa campus to build a radio telescope, in order to make observations of the Milky Way or other astronomical objects such as the sun, and in effect establishing more of an astrophysical presence on campus. He recruited students from physics, electrical engineering, and computer science to join the effort and received funding from the Deans of Arts and Sciences as well as the Honors College.

Dr. Linda Lucas, Assistant Dean of Special Projects for the Honors College, says, "Michael is on a stunning trajectory for a career in astrophysics research. His commitment to introduce young people to the joy of discovery will have major impacts on the lives of aspiring scientists."

Michael completed the Mphil in Astronomy at Cambridge University in one year, and is currently a PhD candidate in Astrophysics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He studies the co-evolution of active galactic nuclei (AGN) and their host galaxies at various wavelengths. Michael plans to become a professor of physics, destined for a career of research, instruction, and outreach.

Congratulations, Michael!

Interested in learning more about Gates Cambridge and Goldwater Scholarship opportunities? Please contact the Office of National Scholarships for information on these national scholarship applications:

The Gates-Cambridge Scholarships are among the most prestigious international scholarships in the world. The program was established in 2000 by a donation of US$210m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge; this is the largest ever single donation to a UK university. The program aims to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.