Four NC State undergraduates with a passion for research have won prestigious Goldwater Scholarships, placing them among the nation’s most promising young scientists and engineers.
The highly competitive scholarship, awarded to 496 college sophomores and juniors, provides up to $7,500 per academic year to cover tuition, fees, books, food and housing. Named for the late Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, the program seeks to strengthen the nation’s leadership in science and technology.
Meet NC State’s 2019 Goldwater Scholars
• Neil Baugh is a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering with a minor in biotechnology. For graduate school, he will pursue a Ph.D. in engineering with a focus on biomaterials. He would like to be the lead researcher in a lab as well as the CEO of a company that works closely with research universities to develop biomaterials and biotechnical skills, and bring them into the medical practice.
Baugh has conducted research under the supervision of Professor Michael Dickey, and he participated in a summer research program at the University of Colorado. In addition to his strong background in undergraduate research, Baugh has taken his research expertise abroad through his service with Engineers Without Borders.
• Rachel Chen is a sophomore pursuing a bachelor’s degree in statistics. She is a Goodnight Scholar and a member of the University Honors Program. For graduate school, Chen will pursue a Ph.D. in biostatistics and plans to focus her research career on precision medicine.
Chen participated in a summer research program at Dordt College in Iowa under the supervision of Professor Nathan Tintle. Her work in this Research Experience for Undergraduates led to two first-author publications in a peer-reviewed, PubMed-indexed journal. In addition to her strong academic and research record, Chen is an accomplished artist.
• Nikhil Milind is a sophomore pursuing a double major in genetics and computer science. He is a Park Scholar and a member of the University Scholars Program. For graduate school, he intends to pursue a Ph.D. in systems biology with the goal of using genetic and computational tools to better understand complex diseases.
Milind’s first research experience, at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, occurred in the summer between his sophomore and junior years of high school. Prior to his freshman year at NC State, he completed a summer research internship at The Jackson Laboratory, an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution in Bar Harbor, Maine. He returned to the lab last summer to pursue an independent project under the supervision of Professor Gregory Carter. At NC State, Milind is pursuing genetics research under the supervision of Professor David Aylor.
Milind is an accomplished violinist who also plays the piano, guitar and ukulele.
• Ana Sofia Uzsoy is a sophomore and Park Scholar pursuing a double major in physics and computer science and a minor in music. For graduate school, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in preparation for a career in astrophysics research.
Uzsoy’s interest in scientific research began during her junior year of high school when she joined the lab of Amy Sheck, dean of science at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Her two-year high school research project led to her giving several presentations on her work, including a poster presentation at the Beijing Youth Science Creation Competition in 2017, where she earned second place. That same year, she was a finalist at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and a semifinalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search.
Prior to her freshman year in college, Uzsoy completed a research internship at the Schmid Biology Lab at Duke University. During her undergraduate career she completed a research internship on exoplanets at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Professor Leslie Rogers.
At NC State, she is working in the physics laboratory under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Mary Elting, who was a 2005 Goldwater Scholar.
In addition to her extensive research background, Uzsoy is a talented musician who is the assistant principal oboe for the Raleigh Civic Symphony and an oboist in NC State’s Woodwind Quintet.
NC State has had 55 Goldwater Scholars since the program was established 30 years ago.
The 2019 class of Goldwater Scholars includes 252 women and 241 men (not all scholarship recipients reported their gender). Sixty-two scholars are mathematics and computer science majors, 360 are majoring in the natural sciences and 74 are majoring in engineering.
The program allows U.S. colleges and universities to submit up to four nominees for the scholarship each year. From an estimated pool of 5,000 applicants this year, the total number of nominees was 1,223 students representing 443 academic institutions.
All Goldwater Scholarship applicants at NC State received mentorship and support from the university’s Goldwater Scholarship Committee: Lisa Bullard, chemical and biomolecular engineering; Gavin Williams, chemistry; Kenan Gundogdu, physics; Min Kang, mathematics; and Larry Blanton, plant and microbial biology. These faculty members review the students’ applications and suggest ways to strengthen them.
This post was originally published in NC State News.