Four Northeastern University undergraduates — the highest possible number from a single institution — have earned the 2018 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the United States’ premier award for outstanding young researchers in STEM fields.
The Goldwater Scholarship is a highly competitive, merit-based award for students majoring in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering who are interested in pursuing careers in research. It was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who showed a keen interest in science and technology during his 30 years in the U.S. Senate.
Each undergraduate institution is invited to nominate up to four students for the award annually. After a rigorous selection process, Northeastern was proud to forward these four nominees for national consideration. Now, each of them is a Barry Goldwater Scholar.
Learn more about these four extraordinary students below. We also gratefully acknowledge each scholar’s faculty mentors, whose guidance is crucial to developing the next generation of leading scientists and engineers.
Minhal Ahmed COE ’19
Mentors: Court Hull, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center; Abigail Koppes, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University; Jeffrey Ruberti, Professor of Bioengineering, Northeastern University
As a high school senior in New York, Minhal Ahmed discovered his passion for neurobiology through Columbia University’s Science Honors Program. At Northeastern, Ahmed chose to study bioengineering because of the field’s potential to transform medical care through novel technologies. Ahmed has complemented his studies with research experience in Northeastern’s Advanced Biomaterials for NeuroEngineering Laboratory (ABNEL), as well as research co-ops in a neurobiology lab at Duke University School of Medicine, where he led a pilot project studying cerebellar circuit function during locomotion, and at Editas Therapuetics, where he researched novel gene therapies based on CRISPR/Cas9 technology. His current co-op at Mass General focuses on the enteric nervous system. Ahmed, who earned an Honorable Mention in the 2017 Goldwater Scholarship competition, plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in Bioengineering and build a research career as a physician-scientist. Minhal is a member of the University Scholars Program and an Honors student.
Isaac Kresse COS ’19
Mentors: Ganesh S. Anand, Associate Professor of Biological Science, National University of Singapore; John R. Engen, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University; Lisa Tucker-Kellogg, Assistant Professor, Cancer & Stem Cell Biology, Duke-NUS Medical School
A University Scholar and Honors student, Isaac Kresse is pursuing dual degrees in chemistry and computer engineering in order to harness the power of algorithmic processing to discern otherwise invisible patterns in the vast amounts of data that biochemical experiments often generate. Kresse’s interest in chemistry, first sparked at Gatton Academy, a math-and-science-focused school in his home state of Kentucky, has led him to conduct research not only at the lab of Northeastern Professor John Engen, but also at SINTEF, an independent research organization in Trondheim, Norway, and at the National University of Singapore. Kresse’s next research position will be at Harvard Medical School, where he will be tasked with developing microfluidics to enable single-cell genomic analysis of brain cells. Kresse plans to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry and aspires to lead a research group studying protein chemistry.
Kritika Singh COE ’20
Mentors: Michael Jaeggli, Assistant Teaching Professor of Bioengineering, Northeastern University; Lee Makowski, Professor and Chair of Bioengineering and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University; Ralph Mazitschek, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School; Oyinda Oyelaran, Associate Teaching Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University; Michael Pollastri, Professor and Chair of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University
Inspired by an internship at Acetylon Pharmaceuticals, Kritika Singh founded Malaria Free World—a nonprofit that advocates for malaria research and eradication—at age 16. Since that time, Singh has conducted research at the Harvard School of Public Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, and Massachusetts General Hospital, all while leading and growing the organization. A bioengineering major with minors in Chemistry and Global Health, Singh’s latest project on epigenetic modulation brings together her cross-disciplinary interests. Singh aspires to earn an M.D./Ph.D. and to employ molecular research in translational therapies that will have appreciable impacts on patient care. Singh is a member of the University Scholars and Honors Programs from McLean, VA.
Elizabeth Wig COE ’20
Mentors: Carey Rappaport, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University; Purnima Ratilal Makris, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University; Steven Spector, Principal Member, Draper Laboratory
Elizabeth Wig studies electrical engineering and mathematics at Northeastern, with a primary interest in the diverse, high-impact applications of electromagnetics for communication and sensing. Her research experience began at Northeastern’s Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) Center and has continued through a co-op at Draper Labs and her current co-op at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center. These research experiences have allowed Wig to apply her knowledge of electromagnetics to problems as diverse as threat detection, LIDAR optimization, cellular phone technology, and radar for drones. Wig, a University Scholar and Honors student from Northborough, MA, plans to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and conduct research in either an academic or industrial setting.