AUSTIN, Texas — Two University of Texas at Austin students have been named recipients of Goldwater scholarships, the preeminent award for undergraduate students who conduct research in the natural sciences, mathematics or engineering.
Kevin Wen, a physics student in the College of Natural Sciences, and Maanas Gupta, a biomedical engineering student in the Cockrell School of Engineering, were selected for the 2023 scholarships, which are awarded by the federally endowed Goldwater Foundation in partnership with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs (NDEP).
“The Department of Defense’s continued partnership with the Goldwater Foundation ensures we are supporting the development of scientific talent essential to maintaining our nation’s competitive advantage,” said Jagadeesh Pamulapati, acting deputy director of research, technology and laboratories, who oversees the NDEP program.
More than 400 academic institutions nominated top students from a pool of thousands for Goldwater scholarships. Wen was among 308 natural sciences students selected for the award, and Gupta was among 57 engineering majors.
Wen has been involved in a variety of research projects, ranging from experimental atomic physics to theoretical condensed matter. In his application for the Goldwater scholarship, Wen focused on a project in which he contributed to the design of a magnetic lens system that he is now helping to construct.
As an officer in the Society of Physics Students with plans to pursue a Ph.D., Wen is interested in condensed matter physics, which he says has direct connections to real-world applications.
For being awarded this scholarship and his research experience, Wen credits faculty members John Markert and Daniel Heinzen of the Department of Physics, Seth Bank of the Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Keith Hawkins of the Department of Astronomy, in addition to graduate students Jeremy Glick and Billy Debenham.
In addition to advancing the field of theoretical condensed matter physics, Wen hopes to mentor the next generation of scientists by becoming a professor one day. In the meantime, when you hear the Tower bells playing on the Forty Acres, you might be listening to Wen, who is among the handful of carillon players on campus.
Gupta, a third-year biomedical engineering student, has had a fascination for stem cells since high school. During his freshman year at UT Austin, he joined a lab where he uses patient-specific stem cells to engineer functional cardiac tissue. This method could one day lead to the possibility of regenerating heart muscle, Gupta said, though significant research will be needed first.
With plans to obtain an M.D./Ph.D. and become a physician-scientist, Gupta hopes to conduct research and use what he learns to help patients. He is the incoming vice president of Texas Engineering World Health, an organization that conducts research and develops medical devices for low-income patients. Gupta spent two years on UT Austin’s competitive men’s volleyball team and will be bicycling from Austin to Alaska with Texas 4000, a UT Austin fundraiser that increases awareness and provides support for cancer patients and their families.
Gupta’s faculty mentors include Janet Zoldan and Sharan Ramaswamy of the Cockrell School and Janice Fischer of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the College of Natural Sciences.
Established in 1986 as a scholarship program honoring Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater scholarship as of this year has been awarded to over 10,000 natural sciences, engineering and mathematics undergraduate students. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, books and room and board up to $7,500 per full academic year.