“I do not think I would have maintained my passion for scientific research had it not been for the extremely rewarding process of applying for and receiving a Goldwater Scholarship”

I won a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2016 at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a college within the University of North Texas. I worked in a physics lab under Dr. Arup Neogi, where I helped develop phononic crystals for use in biomedical imaging and SONAR applications. I continued my studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Goldwater Scholarship has guided my journey both at the University of North Texas and Georgia Tech and has further solidified my passion for scientific research.

At Georgia Tech, I pursued a B.S. in biomedical engineering and was actively involved in immunology and tissue engineering research. I also led a project to model the lymphatic system on a three-dimensional microfluidic system. I had the opportunity to present this research at the 2018 BMES Conference in Atlanta, and I am hoping to publish a first-author paper soon. In addition to research, I also served as a teaching assistant for the introductory BME class at Tech; I love interacting with first-year students through recitations and office hours.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, as part of the Global Health Field Scholars Program. In Vietnam, I helped develop and test a phone application to diagnose medication adherence among HIV patients in the area using only passively-collected phone data. I loved working with an interdisciplinary team made up of anthropologists, sociologists, epidemiologists, physicians, and engineers, but I loved traveling around Vietnam even more. I had never previously visited Southeast Asia, and I enjoyed experiencing the culture and interacting with people.

I have also discovered a passion for encouraging women in computer science and STEM, and I’m pleased to say that TheGirlCodeProject, an organization I founded to empower young women through computer science has made great strides in the number of women we have reached. At the start of the 2018 year, we hosted a four-month-long programming camp for young girls in the Greater Atlanta area, and we continued our work at the end of the year through weekend mother-daughter programming camps. I am further pleased to say that our organization was recognized by the Clinton Foundation and that we were invited to attend the Clinton Global Initiative Conference in Chicago this past October. We have also recently formed a partnership with a Girls’ Club in Thennamadevi, India, and are working to bring our curriculum to those girls as well. I love working on TheGirlCodeProject, and I am excited to see where it will head in 2019.

Following graduation, I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in cancer biology and immunology via the National Institutes of Health/Oxford-Cambridge Fellowship program; I plan to combine my passion for oncology and my research interests in immunology to pursue an MD/PhD and conduct research in an academic setting . I have also applied for a Fulbright Grant to further my work with TheGirlCodeProject in Sri Lanka; I hope my fluency in Tamil, passion for STEM education, and love for travel will serve me well if I am awarded the opportunity.

I am so grateful for everything the Goldwater application process at the University of North Texas did for me, from teaching me how to communicate my research effectively, to learning how to approach professors for letters of recommendation, to receiving the kind of support that has had a tremendous impact on the person I am today. I do not think I would have maintained my passion for scientific research had it not been for the extremely rewarding process of applying for and receiving a Goldwater Scholarship; the opportunity and everything I have learned in the process have opened so many doors for me. We are built up by our past influences, so I’d like to thank the Goldwater Foundation for having been a catalyst for my growth.