Three University of Maryland undergraduates have been awarded 2023 scholarships by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which encourages students to pursue advanced study and research careers in the sciences, engineering and mathematics.
Junior physics and mathematics double-degree student Deven Bowman and junior bioengineering majors Corinne Martin and Neel Panchwagh are among 413 Goldwater Scholars selected from 1,267 nominees nationally. Goldwater Scholars receive one- or two-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year.
Over the last 15 years, UMD’s nominations yielded 49 scholarships—the most in the nation. The Goldwater Foundation has honored 79 UMD winners and five honorable mentions since the program debuted in 1989.
“We are immensely proud of all that Deven, Corinne and Neel have accomplished to this point and the bright futures ahead of them. Their success is a win for everyone at the University of Maryland and highlights the commitment of the university to provide opportunities for our students to advance knowledge in their research disciplines and address grand challenges that impact people and communities, both locally and globally,” said Robert Infantino, associate dean of undergraduate education in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Infantino has led UMD’s Goldwater Scholarship nominating process since 2001.
Bowman started working remotely in a UMD research group the summer before his freshman year—during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He spent the next two years in that group led by Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics with a joint appointment in the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, studying the cosmic ray spectrum. This research resulted in a first-author paper published in the journal Advances in Space Research, as well as a co-authored paper and a conference proceeding.
In summer 2021, Bowman joined the lab of Professor Steve Rolston, chair of UMD’s Department of Physics and Joint Quantum Institute fellow, where he works on long-distance quantum communication. He presented his work at the Frontiers in Optics+Laser Science conference in 2022.
“Over my career, I have interacted with many undergraduates and graduate students—and it is clear Deven has an exceptionally bright future,” Rolston said. “He is highly motivated and very self-sufficient in both understanding the science and figuring out technical solutions.”
Outside the lab, Bowman spent time tutoring two high school students in math, science and English and advised them on preparing for college for the past three years. He also competed in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition in 2021.
This summer, he’ll work at Caltech on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the U.S.-based gravitational wave detector, as part of a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.
During his time at UMD, Bowman received the President’s Scholarship and the Angelo Bardasis Scholarship from the Department of Physics.
After graduation, Bowman plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, following in the footsteps of his father, Steven M.S. ’80, Ph.D. ’86. His mother, Anuradha ’86, M.A. ’97, studied physics then at UMD.
“Their unwavering support for my education has been paramount to my success thus far,” Bowman said of his parents.
Martin participated for the past two summers in the Nathan Schnaper Intern Program in Translational Cancer Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she investigated the genetic regulation of neuronal axon projection and cancer progression in the brain. In addition, Martin troubleshot the code for a web tool called PegAssist to facilitate the use of a technique called prime editing by the broader biomedical community.
Last fall, Martin joined the lab of Christopher Jewell, Minta Martin Professor of Engineering and MPower Professor in UMD’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering, to conduct immune engineering research. Martin recently co-authored a review article on engineering immunometabolism that has been submitted for publication; in May she will present a poster at Immunology2023, the conference of the American Association of Immunologists.
“Corinne is already performing at the level of a graduate student,” Jewell said. “Her creativity, stunning intellect, infectious enthusiasm and kindhearted nature set her apart.”
This summer, Martin will intern at Genentech in South San Francisco on the molecular genetics team, which develops, advances and optimizes gene-editing technologies that support the drug development efforts at the company.
At UMD, Martin is a member of the Design Cultures and Creativity program in the Honors College. She also volunteers as a tutor for the Every Child Project and is a taekwondo instructor, holding the rank of third-degree black belt.
After graduation, Martin plans to pursue a Ph.D. in bioengineering and lead an academic research lab focused on immune engineering to advance novel therapeutic strategies for autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.
“More than 50 million people worldwide are affected by autoimmune diseases, many of which are incurable and require lifelong treatment. As I know through my own battle with Crohn’s disease, these therapies often work by suppressing immune cells without distinguishing between healthy and self-reactive cells, impairing healthy immunity and leaving patients vulnerable to infection,” Martin said. “My career will leverage bioengineering approaches to selectively tune the immune response, improving treatment efficacy while minimizing side effects for patients.”
Panchwagh began his research career as a junior in high school when he joined a cancer metabolism lab at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, where he helped to characterize the effects of fructose metabolism on colorectal cancer growth and energy regulation.
During his freshman year at UMD, he joined a lab at Johns Hopkins University’s Lieber Institute for Brain Development and studied mutations in the TCF4 gene, which are commonly seen in patients with the rare neurodevelopmental disorder called Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome. Panchwagh co-authored a paper about this work that was recently submitted for publication.
Since September 2021, Panchwagh has been conducting pancreatic cancer research at the National Cancer Institute, investigating the role of soluble mesothelin, a protein that plays an active role in both malignant transformation and tumor aggressiveness.
Outside the lab, Panchwagh served as a congressional intern in the U.S. House of Representatives for U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ-06) and volunteers as a site leader for One Tent Health, providing HIV tests and information about safe health practices to the medically underserved population in D.C. He also is vice president and head delegate for UMD’s Model United Nations Team.
He served as a teaching assistant for a new course, “Integrative and Quantitative Concepts in Biology,” taught by Najib El-Sayed, a professor of cell biology and molecular genetics and director of the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College.
“Neel truly stood out, becoming a distinct and unique driving force behind many of the discussions in our preparation sessions,” El-Sayed said. “He brought an element of initiative, leadership and enthusiasm that is rarely seen in classes where complex material is taught and always thought of applications to real-life situations.”
After he graduates, he plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in oncology and to contribute to translational research by developing therapeutics that target the molecular mechanisms that govern cancer biology.
“Through my experiences, I have seen how physician-scientists use their medical background to tailor research toward patient impact,” Panchwagh said. “The M.D./Ph.D. route will allow me to gain an understanding of the research process while receiving comprehensive medical training.”