Carnegie Mellon University
April 08, 2022

Three CMU Students Chosen as Goldwater Scholars

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Mellon College of Science
  • 412-268-9982
Aaron Aupperlee
  • School of Computer Science
  • 412-268-9068

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation named three Carnegie Mellon University students as recipients of its 2022 awards.

Juniors Shweta Gudapati, Daniel Schaffer and Khunpob Sereesuchart are among the 417 recipients of this year's award, chosen from a pool of more than 5,000 college sophomores and juniors.

"The Goldwater Scholarship identifies and invests in some of the most promising undergraduate STEM researchers in the country," said Richelle Bernazzoli, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development. "Khunpob, Shweta and Daniel have already distinguished themselves as contributors to their respective fields, and we are excited to see where their remarkable research trajectories take them as they move forward in their careers. Carnegie Mellon's continuing success with the Goldwater Scholarship is a wonderful affirmation of our excellence in research and faculty-student mentoring."

Each Goldwater Scholar annually receives an amount equal to the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, books, and room and board minus the amount of support provided for by other sources, up to a maximum of $7,500 per full academic year.

Gudapati is a junior in the Mellon College of Science (MCS) who also is enrolled in the Integrated Masters Bachelor Program in the College of Engineering. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and a master's in biomedical engineering.

Gudapati uses her knowledge to pursue research and mentor others. 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, a grassroots advocacy organization that encourages legislation to find solutions to social issues like poverty and nutrition.

"As an aspiring physician-scientist, my most meaningful activities are research and advocacy," Gudapati said. "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."

Schaffer is a junior in the Computational Biology Department in the School of Computer Science where he is identifying regulatory elements in a genome that help determine a species' brain size relative to its body. He is part of a team looking at more than 100,000 candidates across hundreds of species for clues.

"There are so much data, so many species, so many cells, so many proteins. There are a lot of open questions that now feel so approachable," Schaffer said. "I hope to shed some light on a series of small mysteries, such as why certain people develop certain cancers or why cells express certain proteins in different ways."

The opportunity to continue to do research as an undergrad enticed Schaffer to CMU, where he's a member of Andreas Pfenning's Neurogenomics Laboratory and mentored by Lane Postdoctoral Fellow Irene Kaplow. The team is part of the Zoonomia Consortium studying mammalian evolution, and they are building a set of computational and genomic tools to study how genome sequence influences neural cells, neural circuits, disease and behavior. One paper they co-authored was accepted last month for publication in BMC Genomics.

Sereesuchart is a junior in MCS who is simultaneously pursuing a bachelor's degree in mathematical sciences with a minor in computer science and a master's degree as part of the Mathematical Sciences Honors Program.

Sereesuchart is passionate about his research with Giovanni Leoni, professor of mathematical sciences. His research investigates the calculus of variations, partial differential equations and geometric measure theory.

"I am grateful for all of the support of CMU faculty and 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."

Sereesuchart also serves as a teaching assistant, where he is able to help his fellow students comprehend complex concepts.

"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.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.

— Related Content —