Three Johns Hopkins juniors named Goldwater Scholars

Alaleh Azhir, Aditya Mohan, Wenzer Qin recognized for outstanding promise in STEM fields

Three students

Image caption: The Goldwater Scholar winners (from left): Aditya Mohan, Alaleh Azhir, and Wenzer Qin

Credit: Courtesy of Aditya Mohan, Alaleh Azhir, and Wenzer Qin

Three Johns Hopkins juniors have been named Goldwater Scholars, an honor recognizing their outstanding promise in the fields of natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Alaleh Azhir, Aditya Mohan, and Wenzer Qin have each been named a Goldwater Scholar for the 2018–19 academic year. Junior Rohan Panaparambil received honorable mention.

Established in 1986, the Goldwater Scholarship was one of the first significant national scholarships focusing on STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). Winners are nominated by their schools and selected for their academic merit. This year, 211 scholarships were awarded to students from an applicant pool of 1,280.

The program awards winners $7,500 to apply toward tuition, fees, books, and room and board. The national recognition has also been known to give students a competitive edge when pursuing graduate fellowships in their fields.

2018–19 Goldwater Scholars from Johns Hopkins

Alaleh Azhir is a biomedical engineering major with additional majors in computer science and applied mathematics and statistics. Her research focuses on building novel visualization and analysis tools to find hidden patterns in large genomic datasets and exploring the application of such tools in a clinical setting for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Azhir has worked in David Nauen's pathology lab, creating a platform for visualization of shared sequences within splice variants. In addition, she has explored various types of genomic data visualizations through summer internships at the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Azhir participates in a range of campus and community activities, serving as the creative chair for Art Brigade and the senior editor for the Prometheus philosophy journal. She plans to pursue a career in medicine while devoting a portion of her time to research.

Aditya Mohan transferred to JHU from McGill University and is studying molecular and cellular biology. He arrived with a strong interest in cancer biology and immediately joined the lab of oncologist Elizabeth Jaffee, where he is focused on genetically engineering immune cells and developing chimeric antigen receptor T cells for application in cancer immunotherapy. His past research also focused on improving cancer therapies in the context of checkpoint inhibitors and oncolytic virology. Mohan plans to pursue an MD/PhD and continue his work within the area of immunoengineering to eventually improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients.

Wenzer Qin is a physics and mathematics double major. Since her freshman year, Qin has participated in a variety of physics research projects, including tracker alignment and data analysis for the CMS experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, under the guidance of Andrei Gritsan. She also participated in a study of the period-luminosity relation of Mira variable stars with David Nataf and Nadia Zakamska, and conducted theoretical work on circular polarization of the cosmic microwave background with Marc Kamionkowski. She will pursue a PhD in physics and hopes to one day lead her own cosmology research group at an academic institution.

Rohan Panaparambil is a biomedical engineering major who received an honorable mention in the Goldwater competition. Over the last three years, he has been a part of the project to design an artificial intestine at the Hackam Lab. Currently he is taking a semester-long leave of absence to study cholesterol metabolism in the Brown/Goldstein lab at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He plans to pursue an MD/PhD in metabolic engineering and aims to design novel therapies for metabolic disorders based on intense study of the cellular dysfunctions that cause such disorders.

Students interested in applying for national scholarships and fellowships can contact the National Fellowships Program for more information.

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