Three Mellon College of Science juniors have been named 2020 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.
They were among 396 students selected from an applicant pool of over 5,000 sophomores and juniors nationwide. The award recognizes students intending to pursue research careers in mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences and provides up to $7,500 per undergraduate year for tuition, mandatory fees, books, room and board.
Biological sciences major Cassie Bishop is an ardent researcher with a keen interest in molecular biology.
Last summer, she conducted research on the mechanisms underlying cancer treatment resistance with Professor Tanya Paull as part of the Livestrong Cancer Institute’s Summer Internship Program at the University of Texas, Austin.
Bishop, who plans to pursue a career in cancer research, wants to understand the carcinogenic drivers that cause that first cell to be cancerous and research immunotherapeutic approaches that could identify and eradicate these cancerous cells.
“I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped me through the application process, including Dr. Brooke McCartney, Dr. John Woolford, Dr. Brittany Allison and the Goldwater committee,” said Bishop. “It has given me further confidence in dedicating my career to biomedical research.”
Shiv Sethi, a junior neuroscience major and Science and Humanities Scholar, has worked in labs at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), Washington University in St. Louis and at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
He is currently working with Pitt scientists Louis Falo and Emrullah Korkmaz who are researching a new way to deliver drugs for skin cancer. This type of project helped Sethi realize his passion for research and aspire to earn both a M.D. and Ph.D. after graduation.
“When I started working in the lab, my career goals changed,” he said. “I want to do hands-on work in the lab, on the translational side, to help patients in a different way.”
In the future, Sethi hopes to focus on brain cancer research, especially for aggressive diseases like Glioblastoma.
At Carnegie Mellon University, Noah Stevenson has molded his interests in both teaching and research. He has served as a teaching assistant for the math studies courses Analysis I and II, and he has conducted several research projects studying partial differential equations in fluid mechanics and function spaces, advised by Associate Professor Ian Tice.
Through his analysis of fluid equations, Stevenson discovered and analyzed a particular stability in micropolar fluids. His work has been submitted as a manuscript to be published.
“Working in this area is challenging even for graduate students, but Noah’s strong background … made it possible for him to do so as a rising junior,” said Tice. Stevenson takes both undergraduate and graduate courses as part of the Mathematical Sciences Honors Degree Program.
These experiences have shaped Stevenson’s career plans to earn his Ph.D. and become a researcher and professor of mathematics.
Two recent graduates have received Fulbright awards to teach English abroad. The 2020-2021 Fulbright cohort would typically begin this fall but start dates have been pushed back to at least Jan. 1, 2021, depending on the country to which each student will travel.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsors the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” Winners are selected based on a number of factors, including their proposal, called a “Statement of Grant Purpose,” academic record and personal qualifications.
English Teaching Assistantship, Germany
Jonathan Fritz, who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in physics and German studies, will head to Germany as an English Teaching Assistant.
Fritz began studying German as a hobby when he was about 11 years old. Even as he gravitated toward the sciences, developing interests in calculus and physics, Fritz continued studying German. “It’s more a part of my identity,” he said.
“I distinctly wanted to do a program to let me take a step back from science and immerse myself in the culture,” Fritz said. “During my undergraduate time, I bounced around a lot in academic interests so I am able to be flexible and adapt to different challenges. I’m very interested to see how those skills will manifest together as a successful Fulbright.”
English Teaching Assistantship, India
Namita Thomas will travel to India to teach English. She said that CMU helped her develop a passion for community service and teaching through activities such as working as an academic coach, EXCEL leader and a biological sciences teaching assistant.
Having traveled to India multiple times, she said she has seen the strengths and challenges that Indian education presented.
“I want to increase education equity by working with the children in my host community to strengthen their communication skills, so they can be equipped to pursue their career goals later in life,” said Thomas.
Thomas also looks forward to pursuing projects outside of her teaching duties. “I plan to engage with my host community further by creating a mentoring program promoting educational empowerment and women’s health literacy with the young girls in my host community,” she said.