Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was created to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering and to foster excellence in these fields. The awards are made on the basis of merit to two groups of students: those who will be college juniors and those who will be college seniors in the following academic year and all have outstanding potential and intend to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

Learn more about the Goldwater Scholarship and UW’s nomination process.

Search the Goldwater directory for more scholars and honorable mentions.

2023 – 2024 UW Goldwater Nominees:

Dania Ahmed

Junior, Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology major

Dania Ahmed is a junior pursuing a degree in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. Driven by a commitment to improving the lives of individuals dealing with cardiovascular conditions, she joined the Yang Lab. During her sophomore year, Dania was named an Undergraduate Research Fellow by UW’s Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, and a Levinson Scholar during her junior year. Through unraveling the mechanisms underlying heart disease, she aims to translate discoveries into better therapeutics for patients with cardiomyopathies.

One of the captivating frontiers in this field of medicine involves using induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CM) to model heart diseases such as dilated cardiomyopathy. Applying to research scholarships supports Dania in testing a hypothesis that restoring desmin levels that are deficient in cardiomyopathic cells with the MYH7 E848G mutation – associated with dilated cardiomyopathy – will help recover contractile function. In collaboration with her mentors, Dania will restore normal desmin protein levels in iPSC-CMs expressing the MYH7 E848G mutation, and assess the contractile effects of desmin upregulation on cardiomyopathic iPSC-CMs by utilizing a single cell contractility assay called traction force microscopy.

Dania’s favorite part about research is that every answer leads to a new question, a paradox she hopes to continue exploring by pursuing a Ph.D. in stem cell biology. Reflecting on her journey so far, Dania draws a parallel between her earlier self and an undifferentiated stem cell, and would like to thank her phenomenal mentors, Dr. Alex Loiben and Dr. Daniel Yang, for helping her differentiate with purpose and passion into the vast world of science.

Dania’s near-term and long-term goals: After graduating, I aim to obtain a Ph.D. in Stem Cell Biology. Long-term, I want to be at the forefront of the next generation of stem cell researchers, dedicated to translating scientific discoveries into tangible benefits for patients.

Dania’s tips for future applicants: Independently reviewing literature within your field is a valuable practice. Take note of how seasoned researchers introduce and explain similar research topics. This not only enhances your understanding of the subject matter but also equips you with the skills to make your work accessible to a wider audience. Embrace the challenge of demystifying jargon and making your research relatable!

Annabella Li

Junior, Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry major

I am a third-year undergraduate student studying for a double degree in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry. Since joining the DeForest Lab in my freshman year, my research has been focused on designing, producing, and testing novel protein-based systems for uses like the controlled delivery of therapeutics, enhancing proteomic studies, and tissue modeling. As such, my work involves a variety of skills across protein engineering, bioprocessing, optogenetics, tissue culture, and biomaterials science. For instance, in previous projects, I worked with self-catalytic engineered proteins to create a new method for the N-terminal bioconjugation of proteins. Currently, I am focused on developing a platform that controls the attachment and release of signaling factors from hydrogels to enable greater tunability in biomaterials. Outside of class and research, I like to read books, play the piano, and paint or sketch. On days when the weather is fair, I also enjoy running outside and hiking.
My experience so far has led me to want to pursue a career in research. Specifically, I am interested in bridging the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering to come up with solutions in areas such as biotherapeutics and drug delivery that aim to improve human health. As a result, I intend to obtain a PhD in biochemical engineering, applied biophysics, or a related field after my undergraduate studies. I was motivated to apply for the Goldwater scholarship because the funding and connections provided by this recognition would bring me a step closer to a research career.
Lastly, I would like to thank my past and present mentors—especially Prof. Cole DeForest and Ryan Gharios—for all their support and guidance.

Annabella’s near-term and long-term goals: After I graduate, I intend to pursue a PhD in biochemical engineering, applied biophysics, or a related field. Eventually, I want to have a career conducting research at the intersection of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering to create and translate solutions to biomedical problems.

Anabella’s tips for future applicants: Make sure to get feedback on your application from a variety of sources, like research mentors, OMFSA advisors, or even friends and classmates. Talking through your thought process and writing with others can often help clarify your own ideas, as well as identify areas of your application that could be improved.

Masa Nakura-Fan

Sophomore, Computer Science and Mathematics major

I am a sophomore studying Computer Science and Mathematics, and my main research interests are computational fabrication and artificial intelligence. Since the beginning of my freshman year, I have been involved in fabrication research at the Transformative Robotics Lab, developing a new methodology for manufacturing 3D-printed foams with heterogenous inner densities. More recently, I have also been developing a physics simulator for measuring the mechanical properties of 3D-printed foams. Additionally, I am involved with artificial intelligence research at the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory, where I have investigated two main research topics: adversarial artificial intelligence and multi-object tracking systems. Outside of research, I enjoy playing soccer, whether it’s casually juggling at Denney Field or engaging in a competitive intramural soccer game at the IMA.
I am extremely grateful for the guidance I have received from my research mentors Daniel Revier, Dr. Jeffrey Lipton, and Dr. Vitaly Ablavsky. Their support has not only enriched my education at UW but also inspired me to pursue a research career; specifically, I am interested in the intersections of computational fabrication and artificial intelligence such as generative models for object design and automated manufacturing processes using AI-powered robots. I was motivated to apply for the Goldwater scholarship because the recognition would help me explore these research interests further in my career.

Masa’s near-term and long-term goals: Currently, I am aiming to submit a couple of publications at the Transformative Robotics Lab and at UWAPL. After graduation, I plan to obtain a Ph.D. in computer science. Through my research career, I hope to develop more advanced fabrication techniques and also make current manufacturing processes more efficient through AI.

Masa’s tips for future applicants: Completing the Barry Goldwater application may appear intimidating at first, but it was a rewarding process that allowed me to reflect on my previous works and future goals. I recommend applying to this scholarship to anyone who aspires to pursue a research career – just make sure to start early because it has a lot of time-consuming components!

Jeb Song

Junior, Physics (Comprehensive), anticipated Mathematics major

A third-year physics student, my interests lie in quantum information, quantum foundations, and optical computing. I have a passion for engineering computation, a subject that blends math, physics, electrical engineering, and computer science.

In the past, I participated in various research projects related to quantum computing. These include building op-amp circuits for a cold-atom array lab and coding in Qiskit to explore non-Hermitian quantum mechanics. My current project involves extending a new scheme in measurement-based quantum computation to quantum systems of any dimension, providing an alternative path for realising qudit-based algorithms.

Outside classes and research, you can find me editing my Linux config (often while watching things break) or critiquing new movies. I’ve also started exploring computational neuroscience and optical brain imaging.

Jeb’s near-term and long-term goals: In the short term, I aim to obtain a double degree in physics and math while continuing my current project and taking additional research courses to further my knowledge in quantum/optical computing. My long-term goal is to earn a PhD focused on developing platforms for computation, like quantum or optical.

Jeb’s tips for future applicants: Seek advice from mentors, scholarship advisors, and faculty advisors. When writing a technical research essay, focus on the essential step-by-step reasoning and justifications, omitting minor details and tangents. Your reader may be technically inclined but not familiar with your topic. Use the Goldwater overleaf template and use latex/equations sparingly; emphasing description over formulas.

Tara Young

Junior, Biochemistry major

Tara is a Junior majoring in Biochemistry with Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors and minoring in Bioethics. In the Guo Lab of Microbiology, she studies the recruitment of key DNA replication proteins, topoisomerases, to their cellular targets in microbial model systems using biochemical and genetic techniques. By uncovering a previously unknown mechanism, Tara hopes her research could inform the development of more targeted therapies for treating cancer. She is interested in leveraging structural biochemistry to understand how proteins facilitate various pathways in cancer development and hopes to explore this in graduate school and beyond.

Tara would like to thank her mentor Dr. Monica Guo for providing her with a research opportunity at the start of her undergraduate career, and for encouraging her independence through expert guidance and mentorship.

In addition to her research, Tara enjoys working as an Undergraduate Research Leader, mentoring other undergraduates in their pursuit of research. She also serves as the President of Free Radicals, the undergraduate chemistry club. In her free time, she enjoys painting, baking, and going on walks in nature.

Tara was motivated to apply for the Goldwater scholarship to improve her science communication abilities and to seek opportunities and connections that would be helpful on her path to becoming a Physician Scientist.

Tara’s near-term and long-term goals: After graduating, I plan to attend an MD/PhD program and continue to study protein biochemistry. Long term, I aim to lead a lab using structural biochemistry techniques to understand pathways of cancer and translate my findings to therapies. Ultimately, I hope my research will improve the outcomes and experiences of cancer patients.

Tara’s tips for future applicants: Give yourself enough time to work through several drafts of the essays and get feedback from your mentor(s), advisors, and friends. The advisors at the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards are an extremely useful resource when shaping your application for any scholarship, and I highly recommend getting feedback from them!

Scholarship Archive

Browse our archive for more Goldwater Scholarship history.