Four Johns Hopkins undergrads honored by Goldwater Scholarship program

Award recognizes exceptional promise in research careers in STEM fields

Four Johns Hopkins undergraduate students have received honors from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program in recognition of their exceptional promise in research careers.

2016 Goldwater Scholarship Award honorees, from left: Vikas Daggubati, Nicole Michelson, Miguel Sobral, and Felipe d'Andrea

Image caption: 2016 Goldwater Scholarship Award honorees, from left: Vikas Daggubati, Nicole Michelson, Miguel Sobral, and Felipe d'Andrea

Juniors Vikas Daggubati, Nicole Michelson, and Miguel Sobral each won a Goldwater Scholarship, and junior Felipe d'Andrea received an honorable mention.

Congress established the scholarship in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

A Goldwater Scholarship distinction is considered a gateway award for its reputation for giving students a competitive edge when pursuing graduate fellowships in their fields. It is one of the first significant national scholarships focusing on STEM fields—science, technology, engineering and math. This year, 252 scholarships were awarded to students from an applicant pool of 1,150.

"Our campus is brimming with strong Goldwater applicants," says Kelly Barry, director of the university's National Fellowships Program. "The award recognizes the potential for a research career, the same potential that faculty and labs all around the university help to nurture in our undergraduates. When our Goldwater nominees succeed, it's a nod to them and to the STEM community at Hopkins."

More about the Johns Hopkins University honorees:

  • Vikas Daggubati is studying biophysics and has worked in Andrew Holland's lab for two years, developing multiple projects that utilize the CRISPR/Cas9 tool to investigate aspects of centriole biogenesis. Vikas took a "gap" semester during his junior year to devote himself full time to research at Hopkins. He plans to pursue an MD/PhD and develop a research program that improves current gene editing tools and delivery methods to make human genome editing safe and ethical.

  • Nicole Michelson is a neuroscience major. Intent on MD/PhD training in cancer biology, she plans to conduct research on the role of stem cells in tumor propagation and self-renewal. Since her first year at Johns Hopkins, Nicole has been researching glioblastoma multiforme in the Laterra Neuro-Oncology Lab at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. In addition to her significant contribution to work in the Laterra lab, Nicole participates in a range of community and campus-oriented activities, including leadership positions in Food as Medicine and the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium.

  • Miguel Sobral, from Lisbon, Portugal, studies biomedical engineering. He was selected as a Design Team Leader for his senior year. Anchored in Justin Hanes' lab for the past two years, Miguel has also had summer research experiences at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and at Harvard. His current research focuses on nano-immunotherapeutics for glioblastoma therapy. Miguel plans to pursue a PhD in biomedical engineering and hopes to join the emerging field of immunoengineering to help optimize current immunotherapy techniques and develop novel ones.

  • Felipe d'Andrea is a chemistry major who received an honorable mention in the Goldwater competition. Felipe has accrued rich research experience in synthetic/bioorganic chemistry working for the past three years on in Craig Townsend's lab. His research circles the question of novel antibiotic discovery. He intends to pursue an MD/PhD in biochemistry and research in antibiotic and antiviral drug design.

Universities nominate four undergraduates for the honor each year. The campus process for nominating Goldwater applicants begins during the fall semester. For information, go to