Undergraduate Honors

Two Johns Hopkins students named Goldwater Scholars

The Goldwater Scholarship provides financial support to undergraduates pursuing research careers in STEM fields

Johns Hopkins juniors Kyra Bowden and Grace Luettgen were recently awarded the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Headshots of Kyra Bowden and Grace Luettgen.

Image caption: Kyra Bowden (left) and Grace Luettgen

The scholarship, named in honor of late Senator and Major General Barry Goldwater, supports college sophomores and juniors pursuing research careers in engineering, mathematics, and the natural sciences. Bowden and Luettgen are being recognized for their respective work in the fields of biomedical engineering and biophysics.

This year, the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation is supporting 438 new scholars selected from an applicant pool of about 5,000. Each scholar will receive up to $7,500 per academic year until either two years have passed or the student graduates. Schools can nominate up to four applicants each year.

Kyra Bowden

Biomedical engineering

Bowden aspires to use machine learning and image analysis to study disease and injury and optimize outcomes for orthopedics patients. Working with Seth Blackshaw and Jonathan Ling since spring 2022, Bowden has analyzed differential exon inclusion in proteins using ASCOT, a database of alternative splicing events drawn from hundreds of thousands of mouse and human RNA sequencing datasets, and developed Python scripts to use the AlphaFold v2.0 AI platform to model how ASCOT-identified splicing events impact protein structure and function. Bowden has received author credits in the top journals Nature Communications and Nature Medicine and is the first author of a poster presented at the Society for Neuroscience. She also received a grant from the Leong Summer Research Fund and will be spending this summer in Switzerland as part of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Excellence Research Internship Program. Outside of the lab, Bowden has served as a resident advisor since her sophomore year and is an officer of the Johns Hopkins chapters of the Biomedical Engineering Society and SHARE (Supporting Hospitals Abroad with Resources and Equipment). She volunteers with Thread, JHU Tutorial Project, and at a local health care center.

Grace Luettgen

Physics, Biophysics

Luettgen wants to design signaling proteins that modulate interactions between the immune system and diseased cells. Luettgen has been working in Brian Camley's lab since the spring of her first year, where her first project focused on developing a computational model to elucidate potential mechanisms of cell cluster migration, a process crucial to tissue development, wound healing, and cancer metastasis. She is now concentrating on chronic lymphocytic leukemia, using computational modeling to understand how malignant lymphocytes invade the lymph nodes by sensing changes in chemical cues. She is the first author of a recent presentation on this leukemia research at the American Physical Society and won an ASPIRE grant to help fund it. Luettgen has also assisted Aleksandrina Goeva and Miri Adler at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard on gene regulation of cerebellar neurons and communication between molecular layer interneurons (MLIs) and Purkinje layer interneurons (PLIs). Outside the lab and academic work for her two majors, Luettgen is an organizer for JHU Tutorial Project and volunteers with SHARE and Baltimore First, providing tech support to elderly members of the Baltimore community.    

To learn more about applying for the Goldwater Scholarship and other scholarships, visit the university's National Fellowship Program website.