MCS Students Selected as Goldwater Scholars
By Kirsten HeuringMedia Inquiries
- Associate Dean for Communications, MCS
Two Mellon College of Science students were selected to receive the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. Juniors Shweta Gudapati and Khunpob Sereesuchart were chosen as two of the three Carnegie Mellon University recipients based on their academic performance, commitment to research and future ambitions. Both will receive $7,500 per year to assist them with the costs of college.
“The Goldwater Scholarship identifies and invests in some of the most promising undergraduate STEM researchers in the country,” said Richelle Bernazzoli, director of undergraduate research and scholar development. “The selection of Shweta and Khunpob as Scholars demonstrates the wide-ranging research strengths in MCS, from the life sciences to mathematics. Goldwater has recognized their impressive contributions to their fields and their vast potential to contribute much more throughout their careers.”
Gudapati is a junior in the Mellon College of Science who is enrolled in the Integrated Master’s/Bachelor’s Program. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering.
“As an aspiring physician-scientist, my most meaningful activities are research and advocacy,” said Gudapati. “Research is a such a powerful tool that can be used to advance patient care and my experiences in the lab have shown me that translational research can be one of the most impactful ways to help your patients. Advocacy is also a powerful tool that physicians can use to drive policy change that will make new therapeutics more accessible to patients.”
Gudapati currently works in the lab of Tirthadipa Pradhan-Sundd, assistant professor of medicine at the Pittsburgh Heart, Lung and Blood Vascular Medicine Institute. There, they study the different proteins involved in diseases like sickle cell anemia, chronic liver disease, and hemophilia. By manipulating the expression of these proteins, Gudapati and her fellow researchers can observe changes in the symptoms of the disease and the efficacy of current treatments. Gudapati has helped author three papers and has received a grant from the Histochemical Society to help further her research.
Gudapati also uses her knowledge to mentor others and advocate for causes she believes in. She is a supplemental instruction leader for honors biochemistry. She serves as a peer mentor with CovEd, which helps K-12 students continue their education during the COVID-19 pandemic and a volunteer advocate with RESULTS, which is a grassroots advocacy organization that encourages legislation to decrease poverty in the U.S. and around the world. Locally, she volunteers as a patient experience ambassador at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, greeting patients and helping them feel safe and welcome during their visit.
Gudapati hopes to combine her research skills, her advocacy skills and her teaching skills in the future as an M.D./Ph.D.
"Advocacy is often misrepresented in the media, but at its core it simply involves supporting and promoting ideas that will help improve the current systems we have in place,” said Gudapati. “In the future, I'd like to utilize the advocacy skills I've developed to increase the accessibility of my research to my patients and ultimately improve their healthcare outcomes."
Khunpob Sereesuchart is also a junior who is simultaneously pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences with a minor in computer science and a master’s degree in mathematical sciences as part of the Department of Mathematical Sciences’ honors program.
Sereesuchart is passionate about his research with Giovanni Leoni, professor of mathematical sciences, which investigates the calculus of variations, partial differential equations and geometric measure theory. These techniques are used to investigate real-world objects based on their properties, like seeing how heat flows in solid metal based on where the heat is coming from.
“My area of research draws from a lot of fields of like analysis, which is my main focus,” said Sereesuchart. “It's really good seeing all of these different pieces that don't really look related fall into place.”
Sereesuchart also serves as a teaching assistant for Vector Analysis, an honors course taught by Leoni. The course covers a range of topics, including Euclidean spaces and derivative maps, and it shows students how they can apply some of these mathematical ideas into real-world applications. He helps his fellow students comprehend these complex concepts and he works with them to explore their interests with the material.
“While it does not deal directly with my research, I enjoy interacting with students and helping them improve and in the process also solidifying my own understanding of the topics,” said Sereesuchart.
Outside of his classes, Sereesuchart participates in Math Club activities, and he assists with the Carnegie Mellon Informatics and Mathematics Competition (CMIMC), an annual event for high school students. He has volunteered with CMIMC since his first year, starting off as a problem writer then moving to graphic design, creating the competition’s flyers and t-shirts.
Sereesuchart plans to use the skills he has learned from his teaching assistantship and his research to pursue a Ph.D. in the future. He appreciates the help the scholarship and his mentors have given him.
“I am grateful for all of the support of CMU staff, including my research mentor, Dr. Leoni, for helping me to get this far,” said Sereesuchart. “This scholarship has reaffirmed my decisions, and I cannot wait to continue my studies.”