UW News

February 28, 2024

UW graduate receives prestigious Gates Cambridge scholarship

woman in library

Sonia Fereidooni will pursue doctoral work at the University of Cambridge, after receiving the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.Jayden Becles/University of Washington

Sonia Fereidooni, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Washington, was selected for the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Fereidooni, 22, will receive a full-cost scholarship to pursue doctoral work in Digital Humanities at the University of Cambridge, England.

The highly competitive scholarship brings recognition of accomplishments and future promise. This year, 26 students from 20 institutions across the United States were selected.

Fereidooni was born in Eastern Canada and raised in rural Washington. While an undergraduate at the UW, she studied computer and data science in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and sociology in the College of Arts & Sciences. She went on to earn a master’s in computer science and engineering from the Allen School. She was named a Mary Gates Research Scholar in 2022. The next year, she received the Allen AI Outstanding Engineer Scholarship for Women & Underrepresented Minorities.

Her research to date has focused on artificial intelligence, including bias, ethics, fairness and governance; commonsense reasoning and development; and she’s looked at ways to teach computer science more equitably.

In joining the inaugural class in Cambridge’s Digital Humanities program, she plans to research how to effectively legislate AI governance in protection of intersectional identities from the global south, especially the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

“I hope to pursue fieldwork in critical areas that are most adversely affected by the recent accelerated developments of AI, and research how it is that AI can be universally-regulated to avoid such outcomes,” she said.

Established in October 2000 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates Cambridge scholarships are awarded on a student’s 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.