Carnegie Mellon University
April 13, 2020

Neuroscience Student Shiv Sethi Earns Goldwater Scholarship

By Caroline Sheedy

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS

Shiv Sethi, a junior neuroscience major, is the recipient of a 2020 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. The prestigious award from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

The third-year Science and Humanities Scholar is interested in neuroscience, but has spent most of his time in the lab working on cancer research. He has worked in labs at the University of Pittsburgh, Washington University in St. Louis and at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

Sethi is currently working with University of Pittsburgh scientists Louis Falo and Emrullah Korkmaz who are researching a new way to deliver drugs for skin cancer. The new method, called microneedle arrays, could help doctors deliver medicine to cancer patients with greater efficacy. 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’ve had fantastic experiences doing independent research as an undergrad, which helped me see that I could do more than help patients as a M.D. I want to do hands-on work in the lab, on the translational side, to help patients in a different way.”

Marlene Behrmann, Thomas S. Baker University Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience and one of Sethi’s mentors, first met him when he was a student in her Biological Foundations of Behavior class, and has continued to be part of his education. She expects a stellar career from her former student.

“Students like Shiv Sethi will make significant contributions both to our understanding of cancer biology and to the development of new treatment regimens,” She said. “Shiv has a deep commitment to both sides of the coin. At first, he wrestled with deciding whether to do research or to become a physician. He has now found the right track — a combination of the two, and this is extremely well suited to his passion and commitment.”

In the future, Sethi hopes to focus on brain cancer research, especially aggressive diseases like Glioblastoma.

“There are not a lot of solid approaches to treat it right now,” he said. “I want to integrate my major with my research interests to better target these more aggressive invasive tumors.”

Sethi is also a supplemental instruction/EXCEL leader for organic chemistry, a leadership position that allows him to mentor his peers and act as a model student. In his free time, he loves playing racquet sports like squash, tennis, and table tennis and is a big fan of chess.