A BUDDING social anthropologist and neuroscientist from the University of Newcastle have won coveted indigenous scholarships to allow them to continue their studies at the prestigious Oxford and Cambridge universities.
Nathan West and Jessica Buck will both do postgraduate studies after beating competitive fields.
Mr West won the Roberta Sykes Scholarship, and will study social anthropology at either the University of Oxford or University of Cambridge.
He is the second consecutive University of Newcastle winner of the scholarship after Kathleen Jackson won it to undertake a PhD in African and African American studies at Harvard University.
Cross-cultural interactions with indigenous populations in Arnhem Land, Canada and South America were the catalyst for Mr West’s interest in social anthropology research.
‘‘While volunteering as a mentor in Arnhem Land and living a remote part of Vancouver Island in Canada, I became interested in what occurs when different cultural lenses come together both physically and psychologically,’’ Mr West said.
A self-described ‘‘mediocre high-school student’’, Mr West said he was not aware university study was a possibility until he attended a University of Newcastle open day.
Ms Buck was named the recipient of a Charlie Perkins Scholarship and a James Fairfax Oxford Australia Scholarship, and will head to the University of Oxford.
Ms Buck, whose undergraduate degree is in biomedical science, said she developed an interest in health and medicine after watching her grandmother suffer from breast cancer.
“As a kid I always wanted to fix things. My favourite toys were not Barbies but bandages, and my poor brother was forced into slings and mummified on many an occasion,’’ Ms Buck said.