Five Penn Students: Goldwater Scholars
Five University of Pennsylvania undergraduates have been awarded 2022 Goldwater Fellowships, awarded to sophomores or juniors planning research careers in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering.
Penn’s 2022 Goldwater Scholars are junior Joshua Chen of Palo Alto, California; Allison Chou from Taipei, Taiwan; Shriya Karam of Nolensville, Tennessee; Laila Barakat Norford of Wayne, Pennsylvania; and Andrew Sontag of Elkridge, Maryland.
They are among 417 students named 2022 Goldwater Scholars out of 1,242 students nominated by 433 academic institutions in the United States, according to the Barry Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Foundation. Each scholarship provides up to $7,500 each year for up to two years of undergraduate study.
Penn has produced 23 Goldwater Scholars in the past seven years and a total of 55 since Congress created the scholarship in 1986.
Joshua Chen is majoring in materials science and engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and in entrepreneurship and innovation at the Wharton School. He conducts research in the Department of Physics under Marija Drndic at Penn and with the Juejun Hu Research Group Photonic Materials Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Chen was awarded the 2019 Bosch Scholarship and the Littlejohn Undergraduate Research Fellowship. At Penn, he is a Rachleff Engineering Researcher, founder of the new MatSci Makerspace, and was the Software Manager at Penn Aerial Robotics. Outside of Penn, he was a founding board member and responsible for growing the Wave Learning Festival, a nonprofit created during the pandemic to provide free, student-taught online courses to middle and high school students. . He is co-founder of Repairylene, a prototype-stage startup that uses electroplating technology as a metal repair solution. Dr. Chen plans to pursue a doctorate in materials science and engineering with the goal of developing scientific research innovations that will change technology.
Allison Chou is majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry at the College of Arts and Sciences. She works in the lab of Sigrid Veasey at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, focusing on the mechanisms of pre-plaque neural injury in sleep loss and Alzheimer’s disease. She has also worked with Rebecca Robbins of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital on examining sleep beliefs and patterns in Chinese and Bangladeshi American seniors. Ms. Chou transferred to Penn after her freshman year at Brandeis University. At Penn, she is a Fellow and Teaching Assistant for the Chronobiology and Sleep course, taught by David Raizen at Penn Medicine. Ms. Chou is the Founder and Co-Chair of Penn Chinese Calligraphy and Chief Operating Officer of TEDxPenn. She helps run Sleep Well at Harnwell workshops with guidance from Adriana Perez of Penn’s School of Nursing to raise awareness of the importance of sleep. She volunteers at Beyond Taiwan, mentoring high school students in Taiwan with limited resources to apply to American colleges. Ms. Chou plans to pursue an MD/PhD in neuroscience to further her research on sleep and Alzheimer’s disease.
Shriya Karam is majoring in Systems Engineering with a concentration in Decision Science and a minor in Mathematics at Penn Engineering. She has championed the mainstreaming of equity and inclusion in her academic work in transportation and engineering and in advocacy organizations outside the classroom. At Penn, she is a research assistant at the Center for Safe Mobility, where she is developing an equity-focused model of aviation accessibility. She is also the Chair of the Underrepresented Engineering Student Advisory Council and a member of the Penn’s Society of Women Engineers Board of Trustees. Ms. Karam plans to pursue a PhD in Civil Engineering.
Laila Barakat Norford is majoring in bioengineering with minors in computer science and bioethics at Penn Engineering. As a Rachleff Scholar, Ms. Norford has been engaged in systems biology research since her freshman year. His current research uses machine learning to predict cell types in intestinal organoids from live cell images, allowing detailed characterization of developmental and disease mechanisms. At Penn, she is a peer guidance counselor, a volunteer with Advancing Women in Engineering and the Penn Society of Women Engineers, and a teaching assistant for computer literacy. She is secretary of the Penn Band, where she plays clarinet and is a member of the Fanfare Honor Society for her service and leadership. Ms. Norford registers voters with Penn Leads the Vote and solicits candidates for state government. She is also a member of Penn Aces. Ms. Norford plans to pursue a PhD in computational biology, aspiring to create computational tools to tackle understudied diseases and health disparities.
Andrew Sontag is a Benjamin Franklin Scholar specializing in physics and astronomy with a concentration in astrophysics and is pursuing an under-enrollment to earn a master’s degree in physics at the School of Arts and Sciences. He conducted research with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory regarding charged particle interactions near Saturn, which resulted in a recent first author publication. While working with Jay Kikkawa’s physics lab at Penn, Sontag discovered a new method for producing laser beams with a much more stable angular momentum than previously achieved. He is the site coordinator for the Penn Music Mentoring Program, a group of student music education volunteers. Sontag plans to pursue a PhD in physics to study high-energy quantum interactions.
The students applied for the Goldwater Fellowship with the help of Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.