MIT senior Aviva Intveld has won the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which offers students an opportunity to pursue graduate study in the field of their choice at Cambridge University in the U.K. Intveld will join the other 23 U.S. citizens selected for the 2023 class of scholars.
Intveld, from Los Angeles, is majoring in earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences, and minoring in materials science and engineering with concentrations in geology, geochemistry, and archaeology. Her research interests span the intersections among those fields to better understand how the natural environments of the past have shaped human movement and decision-making.
At Cambridge, Intveld will undertake a research MPhil in earth sciences at the Godwin Lab for Paleoclimate Research, where she will investigate the impact of past climate on the ancient Maya in northwest Yucatán via cave sediment records. She hopes to pursue an impact-oriented research career in paleoclimate and paleoenvironment reconstruction and ultimately apply the lessons learned from her research to inform modern climate policy. She is particularly passionate about sustainable mining of energy-critical elements and addressing climate change inequality in her home state of California.
Intveld’s work at Cambridge will build upon her extensive research experience at MIT. She currently works in the McGee Lab reconstructing the Late Pleistocene-Early Holocene paleoclimate of northeastern Mexico to provide a climatic background to the first peopling of the Americas. Previously, she explored the influence of mountain plate tectonics on biodiversity in the Perron Lab. During a summer research position at the University of Haifa in Israel she analyzed the microfossil assemblage of an offshore sediment core for paleo-coastal reconstruction.
Last summer, Intveld interned at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Homer, Alaska, to identify geologic controls on regional groundwater chemistry. She has also interned with the World Wildlife Fund and with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. During her the spring semester of her junior year, Intveld studied abroad through MISTI at Imperial College London’s Royal School of Mines and completed geology field work in Sardinia, Italy.
Intveld has been a strong presence on MIT’s campus, serving as the undergraduate representative on the EAPS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She leads tours for the MIT List Visual Arts Center, is a member of and associate advisor for the Terrascope Learning Community, and is a participant in the Addir Interfaith Dialogue Fellowship.
Inveld was advised in her application by Kim Benard, associate dean of the Distinguished Fellowships team in Career Advising and Professional Development, who says, “Aviva’s work is at a fascinating crossroads of archeology, geology, and sustainability. She has already done extraordinary work, and this opportunity will prepare her even more to be influential in the fight for climate mitigation.”
Established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship provides full funding for talented students from outside the United Kingdom to pursue postgraduate study in any subject at Cambridge University. Since the program’s inception in 2001, there have been 33 Gates Cambridge Scholars from MIT.