2024 Goldwater Nominees Pioneer STEM Research

We are delighted to share the names of our four nominees for this year’s Goldwater Scholarship. These wonderful students have been undertaking research across all of our STEM colleges and pursuing a unique constellation of interdisciplinary research, designed for impact, ranging from the rehabilitation of salt marshes to cancer therapeutics.  We’re very proud of those who applied for this honor — and our nominees.

Luke BagdonasLuke Bagdonas COS’25, Chemistry
Mentors: Aaron Stubbins, Jennifer Bowen, Rein Kirss
Home State: Massachusetts

Luke is a third year chemistry major, passionate about researching salt marshes as nature-based solutions to climate change. Salt marshes are coastal wetland ecosystems that sequester carbon extremely fast but are at risk from multiple anthropogenic-induced effects. He first became passionate about carbon storage during his first co-op in the lab of Professor Jennifer Bowen where he studied how nitrate was impacting the composition of dissolved organic carbon in salt marsh soils. He then helped develop a method to grow Spartina alterniflora, a foundation salt marsh species, hydroponically in order to examine how root exudates vary between plants, informing how plant-microbe interactions and soil organic matter develop. After his first co-op, Luke was awarded a PEAK Summit Award to study carbon fluxes from degrading S. alterniflora in the lab of Professor Aron Stubbins. He plans to continue his research on the drivers of salt marsh organic matter structure through a Ph.D. so he can better inform salt marsh restoration and mitigation strategies. Outside of research, Luke enjoys playing piano and writing music for NUStage, serving as a College of Science Ambassador, and spending time with the chemistry club.

Maya de Los SantosMaya De Los Santos COE’25, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Mentors: Saiph Savage, Iman Salama, Tina Eliassi-Rad, Daniel Klug
Home State: New Jersey

Maya De Los Santos is a first-generation Afro-Latina pursuing an Electrical and Computer Engineering degree in Northeastern University’s Honors Program. Throughout her academic career, Maya has dedicated herself to finding and creating opportunities that coincide with her research interests at the intersection of data privacy and AI fairness in preparation for a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Maya is passionate about empowering marginalized communities to promote their well-being and protect their privacy, which has been the connecting thread in her undergraduate research pursuits. In 2021, Maya was selected for an NSF grant to participate in Carnegie Mellon University’s REUSE research program, where she published a first-author paper on TikTok users’ awareness of the platform’s privacy policy. Following this experience, she worked in Professor Saiph Savage’s Civic AI lab as an AJC Merit Research Scholar, publishing three papers about her designs for human-centered AI systems that ensure fair work opportunities and privacy protection for crowdworkers around the world. Her research has highlighted the need for continued development of practical solutions for individuals facing privacy violations and the power community holds in reducing feelings of digital resignation. Aside from research, Maya is also an active member of Northeastern’s Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Black Engineering Student Society, serving as president of the former for an academic year.

Kaitlyn RameshKaitlyn Ramesh COE’25, Bioengineering
Mentors: Mingyang Lu, Maxim Prigozhin, Helen Ann Markewich
Home State: Massachusetts

Kaitlyn Ramesh is a third year bioengineering student at Northeastern University aspiring to earn a PhD in Computational Biology to investigate the gene regulatory mechanisms underlying tissue regeneration. Through developing computational tools and examining genomics data, she hopes to advance the field of precision medicine and expand treatment options in healthcare. Kaitlyn was introduced to computational biology in her freshman year when she joined the Lu Lab in Northeastern’s Department of Bioengineering. Here, she developed a bioinformatics algorithm that analyzes single-cell gene expression data to infer the kinetics of gene expression changes that drive macroscale biological processes, such as wound healing.  Her work on the algorithm was funded by the PEAK Ascent Award and AJC Merit Research Scholarship. To further explore quantitative biology, Kaitlyn completed an REU at Harvard University where she joined the Prigozhin Lab to build a novel microfluidic device that captures ultrafast intracellular processes and provides insight into drug response. In addition to her independent research endeavors, Kaitlyn has collaborated with her classmates in the College of Engineering to build an injury-prevention EMG sleeve. Outside of research, Kaitlyn enjoys mentoring students through the Women’s Research Engagement Network (WREN) and is a member of No Limits Dance Crew.

Madeline SzooMadeline Szoo COE/COS’25, Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry
Mentors: Debra Auguste, Adam Hartigan, Rachelle Reisberg
Home State: Texas

Madeline Szoo joined us at Northeastern University with a love of STEM and a drive to cure the triple-negative breast cancer that impacted her grandmother. In this endeavor, she is pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry and research in preparation for earning a Ph.D. in Bioengineering and a career making an impact in oncological nanomedicine. Madeline has conducted a variety of research in this field both on- and off-campus, earning PEAK Base Camp and Ascent Awards and an Honors Early Research Award to explore lipid nanoemulsions targeting triple-negative breast cancer in the Bioresponsive Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering Laboratory of Professor Debra Auguste. Building on her passion for oncology, Madeline completed a co-op at the Laboratory of Professor Tayyaba Hasan at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School through the CaNCURE Program and earned a Sigma Xi Grant In Aid of Research to support her work studying in vitro and in vivo pancreatic cancer models and their treatment by photodynamic therapy and immunotherapies. Her first publication from this research is forthcoming. Madeline will be enriching her passion for tumor modeling in the TUMOR Laboratory of Professor Cynthia Hajal this Spring! In addition to laboratory research, Madeline has worked with Assistant Dean Rachelle Reisberg on studies of the long-term academic success of first-year engineering students. Aside from her many research experiences, Madeline is dedicated to mentorship in her roles as the President and Research Immerse Chair for Sigma Xi and a GE1000 Peer Mentor.