Matt Malone CC’18, a linguistics and mathematics double major from New York City, has received a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue an M.Phil. in theoretical and applied linguistics at the University of Cambridge.
Malone was one of 36 U.S. scholars to receive this award, chosen not just for their outstanding academic achievement but also their social leadership.
Photo: Courtesy of Matt Malone CC'18
“We are thrilled that Matt has been chosen for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. This is a huge accomplishment, both for Matt and for Columbia,” said Scott Carpenter, associate dean of global education and fellowships. “His ability to conduct independent research internationally, with the strong support of our faculty, was a key component of his candidacy for the Gates Cambridge.”
“I really couldn't be more excited to start my program next year as a Gates Cambridge scholar,” Malone added. “I’m honored to have been chosen for the scholarship, and plan to take advantage of all it offers me.”
This past summer, Malone traveled to Kribi, Cameroon to conduct research for his senior thesis, beginning documentation work on Bapuku, a highly-endangered language that, according to Malone, he is the first to study. To record and understand Bapuku’s phonology, morphology and syntax, he worked one-on-one with speakers of the language.
“The experience was amazing and the community grew excited and comforted that their culture would not be forgotten after their language inevitably dies out,” as the language is not taught in schools nor is there a working written version of the language, Malone said.
Malone plans to continue conducting research on the syntax of endangered Bantu languages, which he describes as “constituting the largest subcategory of the Niger-Congo language family, predominately based in mid and southern Africa”, during his time as a Gates Cambridge scholar. He hopes to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in linguistics, working towards becoming a professor and researcher in the field.
“I’m confident that Columbia has academically prepared me for postgraduate studies in linguistics,” said Malone. “The courses I’ve taken, under fantastic professors, like John McWhorter, [associate professor of English and comparative literature], and Alan Timberlake, [professor of Slavic languages and director of the Institute of East Central Europe], have provided me with the foundation I’ll need to further understand linguistic theory and application.”
Malone — who spent a semester studying abroad at Columbia’s Reid Hall program in Paris — also served as a Columbia Outdoor Orientation Program (COÖP) leader, was a member of Columbia Undergraduate Admissions’ Undergraduate Recruitment Committee and president of LateNiteTheatre, a sketch comedy group.
“His win is a testament to the thriving academic activity of Columbia College students,” Carpenter said. “We look forward to seeing where his research takes him in the future.”
The Gates Cambridge Scholarship, established in October 2000 by a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge, provides students from outside the United Kingdom the opportunity to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Students are selected based on intellectual ability, leadership potential, commitment to improving the lives of others and fitness for the postgraduate program they are applying for at Cambridge.
Malone’s scholars cohort will also include Ali Ansari TC’10, who will be pursuing a Ph.D. in education.