Three Northeastern students are taking home Goldwater Scholarships this year to further their undergraduate studies, tackle research goals and take more meaningful steps toward their futures.
This year’s winners include Northeastern students Ethan Wong, who studies biology and data science; Gillian McClennen, who also studies biochemistry and data science; and Siddharth Simon, who studies computer engineering and computer science on the pre-med track.
This year’s Goldwater Scholars plan to use their hard-earned financial support to, among other things, further neuroscience research, study “bacterial communication” and create a “chronic migraine diagnostic mobile app.”
“I am very grateful to the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation for their efforts in funding and selecting scholars each year from around the country,” Wong told Northeastern Global News.
As a rising senior, Wong has worked with Assistant Professor Mathew Yarossi and Professor Eugene Tunik at Northeastern’s Movement Neuroscience Lab, where he’s conducted research on cognitive decline and the development of “novel screening tests” for mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
“I hope to use [the Goldwater Scholarship] to broaden my perspective on the cutting-edge research happening in many diverse fields all around the world,” he says.
McClennen has been conducting microbiology research in associate professor of biology Yunrong Chai’s lab over the past several years.
“I study bacterial communication in biofilms, which are three-dimensional structures that bacteria build and live in to protect themselves from external threats like antibiotics,” she says.
“After graduation, I plan to continue this research in a Ph.D. program,” McClennen says. “Winning the Goldwater is very important to my grad school journey and will definitely help me pursue top tier research programs across the country.”
“More specifically, along with helping to pay for my studies, I can use this funding to help push a project I’m helping with to create a chronic migraine diagnostic mobile app,” Simon says. “This software leverages users’ drawings of pain and AI to increase accessibility to proper treatment by diagnosing their specific types of migraines and directing them to the proper specialists.”
The annual national scholarship program is the most prestigious undergraduate science fellowship in the country. The scholarships are awarded only to the top sophomores and juniors nationwide, who are engaged in academic work in math, science or engineering.
Each scholar receives “an amount equal to the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, books and room and board, minus the amount of support provided for by other sources, up to a maximum of $7,500 per full academic year” for the remainder of their undergraduate education.
This year there were more than 5,000 applicants vying for the esteemed scholarship, with a total of 413 scholars named—more than any year previous since the program’s inception in 1989.
“Many of the scholars have published their research in leading professional journals and have presented their work at professional society conferences,” program leaders said on their website.