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Ohio State students honored with Goldwater Scholarships

Award recognizes undergraduate research

Four students from The Ohio State University have been recognized by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.

Juniors Lia Gomez-Perez, Anthony Moussa, Rakesh Murugesan and Mackenzie Scott were all named 2022 Goldwater Scholars, the prestigious national award for undergraduate researchers in science, math and engineering. Goldwater Scholars receive an award to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500.

Lia Gomez-Perez“Senator Goldwater epitomized key elements of Ohio State’s own mission: independent thinking and a deep commitment to service,” said President Kristina M. Johnson. “He not only served his country for more than half a century as a soldier and statesman, but also refused to be pigeonholed by a single ideology and spoke up vociferously for what he believed was right. It is a true honor that Ohio State has consistently produced Goldwater Scholars since the award’s inception, and also a testament to the academic rigor of our undergraduate programs. I wholeheartedly congratulate this year’s awardees and look forward to seeing the results of their ongoing scholarship.”

Since the award’s inception in 1986, Ohio State has produced 69 Goldwater Scholars; 61 of the university’s previous 68 nominees have been recognized as a scholar or honorable mention. This is the fourth time in Ohio State history in Anthony Moussawhich all four nominees have received the award; the previous three occurred in 2007, 2019 and 2020. In three of the last four competition cycles, all four Ohio State nominees have been named Goldwater Scholars.

Gomez-Perez, a third-year honors student and Eminence Fellow in the College of Engineering, is majoring in biomedical engineering with minors in computer information science and business. She aims to earn a PhD in biomedical engineering bioimaging and artificial intelligence to improve medical diagnostics. Gomez-Perez’s research at Ohio State is advised by Jun Liu, professor of biomedical engineering.

“As an immigrant, winning the Goldwater Scholarship represents not only my own hard work and passion for clinical research, but years of my parents’ backbreaking perseverance to rebuild our lives in Rakesh Murugesanthe U.S. in order to give me opportunities like this one,” Gomez-Perez said. “I am very grateful to them and everyone who has helped me along the way, from my English as a second language teacher in elementary school to my college professors and principal investigators.”  

Moussa, also a third-year honors student and Eminence Fellow, is majoring in biomedical science with a minor in neuroscience in the College of Medicine. Jason Wester, assistant professor of neuroscience, is his adviser. Moussa is working to earn an MD/PhD in neuroscience to research and treat neurodevelopmental disorders.

“I appreciate the recognition of my academic career and progress in biomedical and neuroscience research at the national level,” Moussa said. “I’m grateful for this scholarship and the opportunities it provides as I plan to serve as a physician-scientist.”

Third-year honor student Murugesan is majoring in biomedical science with a minor in medical pharmacology in the College of Medicine. He is pursuing an MD/PhD in cancer biology to research novel immunotherapy strategies. Susheela Tridandapani, professor of hematology, advises Murugesan’s research.

“Winning the Goldwater Scholarship gave me so much more confidence towards pursuing a career in science. I've always enjoyed the process of doing science, and the excitement of experimentation, but I knew the career ahead would be long and challenging,” he said. “Learning that others believe in my potential to do great science that can really help people makes that all truly worth it.”

Mackenzie ScottMajoring in astronomy and astrophysics and physics with a minor in history in the College of Arts and Sciences, Scott is a third-year honors student. She aims to earn a PhD in astrophysics to conduct research in cosmology and stellar evolution. Scott’s research at Ohio State is advised by Michael Lisa, professor in the Department of Physics.

“I am honored to win the Goldwater Scholarship and I am excited to see my hard work paying off,” she said.

In all, 417 scholarships were awarded to sophomores and juniors based on academic merit from a field of 1,242 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by colleges and universities nationwide.

It is estimated that over 5,000 students applied for their university’s nomination. Each institution may nominate only four students (plus one additional transfer student) for this award.  

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