Claire Bunn

Marion native Claire Bunn was one of 23 Americans selected for the 2022 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars in February.

Bunn's scholarship will fully fund postgraduate study and research in any subject of her choosing at the University of Cambridge in England.

Bunn graduated in 2018 as Marion's class valedictorian and will graduate in May from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in genetics. She was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2021, as well as a Foundation Fellow, Stamps Scholar, and Honors student in the Franklin College of Arts and Science and Jere W. Morehead Honors College.

“This being such a competitive thing, it's like a dream come true,” said Bunn, who will begin medical school after her year at Cambridge. “I knew there was nothing guaranteed when I applied for it, and I'm so excited for what's next.”

Bunn's scholarship “recognizes intellectually outstanding postgraduate students with a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others,” according to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship website. The scholarship was a gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has awarded 2,003 scholarships to scholars from 111 countries since 2001.

Bunn, who is Georgia's ninth Cambridge scholar, was part of tennis, soccer, and newspaper while she was in Marion High School. The daughter of Jim and Caryn Bunn, and the older sister to Reid Bunn, who is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas, Claire was also involved in community service through DCA and DBS.

“I've heard from so many people from back home since I found out I'd gotten this scholarship,” said Bunn. “It's been such an amazing outpouring of support from former teachers, and friends. Principals have texted me. It's nice to have so many people rooting for me from afar.”

At Cambridge, Bunn will pursue a Ph.D. In the Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience.

Bunn wound up at Georgia somewhat by chance.

“There are no genetics programs in Arkansas at all,” said Bunn. “Georgia does have, and my mom and I went to visit a friend of hers in Georgia, and when I toured the campus, I just loved it. I got a good scholarship that provides travel opportunities.”

Beginning in fall 2020, Bunn, who studied biomedical ethics at the University of Oxford in 2019, began researching developmental lung biology, working remotely with Dr. Jennifer Sucre, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

Bunn's scholarship does not begin until October, but she looks forward to potentially going to England earlier to relax, see some sights and “figure out the logistics of living abroad,” said Bunn.