Goldwater scholarships support research in the sciences

Five Stanford undergraduate juniors were named 2024 Barry Goldwater Scholars, an award providing scholarships up to $7,500 per year to support students who aim to pursue a research career in the natural sciences, math or engineering. 

The 2024 recipients are Julie Chen ’25, Cyrus Hajian ’25, Jaeah Kim ’25, Andrei Mandelshtam ’25 and Sidra Xu ’25. A total of 438 scholarships out of 1,353 nominees were awarded nationally for the 2024-2025 academic year. As they are all juniors, each recipient will receive support for one academic year. 

The Goldwater Scholarship hopes to encourage promising scholars to pursue ambitious research.  

“Being named a Goldwater scholar really reinforced my passion for research,” said Hajian, who studies biology. “Coming here from community college, it’s easy to feel really out of place, so it felt validating. It reinforced what I’ve achieved with the help of my mentors, and it brought a lot of thankfulness and appreciation for where I’m at.” 

Each fall, Stanford holds an internal application process for nominations to the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Applicants ask three people, generally mentors or principle investigators in labs where they produce research, to write letters of recommendation. A committee led by the Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education’s Fellowship Team then reviews the applications and decides which applicants to nominate. At most, the committee can nominate five applicants, with a maximum of four undergraduates and one transfer student. 

Several recipients intend to pursue careers in academia. Chen, a computer science major, hopes to earn a Ph.D. in biology and go on to perform research on diseases and development. Xu, a double major in computer science and biology, plans to obtain a Ph.D. in developmental genomics and work in pediatrics and bioinformatics. 

Hajian, who transferred from community college in 2022, is currently researching the uses of plasma proteins of poison dart frogs. He hopes to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. and continue immunology research.

“Stanford allowed me to explore,” Hajian said. “I had never touched anything having to do with organism biology before.” 

Echoing Haijan, Kim, a biology major interested in developing tools for systems neuroscience — or the study of circuits in the brain — said Stanford allowed her to explore new fields. After researching fly genetics in high school, Kim discovered her passion for neuroscience while reading Stanford professor Karl Deisseroth’s book “Projections.” Kim now works in Deisseroth’s lab.

“Curiosity has driven me to all my interests, but I think Stanford has opened my eyes to everything else that is out there,” Kim said. “Stanford offers so many opportunities and it is interdisciplinary in so many ways.”

Kim hopes to pursue an M.D.-Ph.D. and work as a physician scientist with her own lab to study neuroscience while treating patients. 

Mandelshtam, a math major and coterminal master’s student in computer science, currently researches combinatorics. He studies an extension of the classical Ulam sequence problem, focused Ulam words instead of Ulam numbers. Mandelshtam’s long term goal is to become a research professor and continue mathematics research. 

“I just hope to continue broadening the theory and scope of knowledge that is present within mathematics, and I hope to be a significant contributor in the future,” Mandelshtam said. 

While she praised the accomplishments and ambition of her fellow Goldwater Scholars, Kim expressed that talent and hard work were nearly ubiquitous at Stanford. 

“A lot of people I’ve met here have done really amazing work and really amazing research,” Kim said. “I think they should also be recognized for that.”