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Sam Ainsworth, 24, is from Swanwick, Derbyshire and attended state secondary Swanwick Hall School.
Sam was the first person from his school in 30 years to go to Oxbridge. Encouraged by his tutor to apply, he attended a Sutton Trust summer school and took a year out to teach himself Further Maths A level whilst working in the IT company of a train company before securing his place at Churchill to read Computer Science. He achieved a First in his BA degree and is now in the second year of a Computer Science PhD. His current focus of research is prefetching — specifically how to make the process of having data ready to access when you want it (prefetched), a programmable one. Sam’s research group currently has a joint patent application with ARM and he has recently presented a paper at one of the top conferences on computer architecture in Turkey. Several more papers are in the pipeline and looking beyond his PhD, Sam hopes to either take up a post-doctoral position or go into the industry sector.
Sam’s PhD has been part funded by ARM (CASE award) and part-funded by the EPRSC but he has also received financial support from Churchill College. When he first applied to Cambridge Sam received financial assistance towards a tutor for his Further Maths A level course and during his time at Churchill Sam received a £3,500 a year Cambridge Bursary for each year of his undergraduate degree. At the time, the Cambridge Bursary was enough to cover Sam’s £3000 p.a. university fees. With fees now standing at £9,000 Sam strongly believes that his decision to apply for a place at Cambridge would not have been as straightforward without the Cambridge bursary due to this increased financial barrier.
Sam has also been able to nurture his musical talent whilst at Churchill – he joined the Churchill Choir (now Churchill Chorus) and Chapel Choir and has been singing with both for 5 years. During his time at Churchill Sam received a £150 vocal bursary and a choral scholarship of £250, both funded by the College. With singing lessons costing around £25-£30 an hour there was no possibility that he could have afforded to develop his singing without these awards and he links the success of his academic work with this opportunity to develop his musical talent:
‘I definitely believe that singing in the choir made me do better academically than I would have done otherwise because it gave me a creative outlet. I have found this is even more true with the PhD…going out and having different experiences can cause you to think in a very different way and come up with something in a way that you wouldn’t have otherwise.’
Sam also enjoys contributing to the life of College through his role, first in the JCR and now as part of the MCR, as the computing officer. He greatly values Churchill’s down to earth, friendly atmosphere and its vibrant cross-curricular community. He also really enjoys supervising the College’s undergraduate students and rates them highly as a group of extremely talented and interesting individuals who are drawn to the College to study. He describes Churchill as ‘the premier institution for promoting science’ and believes that the College is leading the way in teaching computer science.