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UC San Diego Undergraduates Awarded National Goldwater Scholarships

The campus has had 46 Goldwater scholars since 1989


  • Holly Xiao

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  • Holly Xiao

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Elizabeth Kim, Joshua Young Yang and Maarouf Saad are the University of California, San Diego’s latest undergraduate students to be acknowledged with the national Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program Award for their research in the sciences. Kim and Yang were selected to receive the scholarship—regarded as the nation’s most prestigious award bestowed upon students studying the sciences—and will each receive $7,500. Saad was awarded with an honorable mention for his contributions as well.

The Goldwater Scholarship is a highly competitive national award, established by Congress to honor Senator Barry Goldwater for his service to his country as a soldier and statesman. Universities are allowed only four undergraduate nominations per year. This year, a total of 280 students nationwide were selected on the basis of academic merit. In addition, approximately 200 were selected for honorable mentions. Since the establishment of the Goldwater Scholarship in 1989, 46 UC San Diego students have been chosen for the scholarship award.

Yang won the scholarship for his research on rheumatoid arthritis. He hopes to pursue a M.D./Ph.D. degree in immunology, with a focus on finding treatments for autoimmune diseases. A junior from Revelle College, Yang is also active on the DanceSport junior varsity team at UC San Diego, where he performs both ballroom and Latin dance.

“As the understatement of the year, I was elated when I found out I had received the scholarship,” said Yang, who conducted his research in the lab of Maripat Corr, M.D., in the division of rheumatology, allergy and immunology at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

Kim, a general biology and classical studies double major and fellow scholarship recipient, works as an undergraduate researcher investigating the hypothesis that tobacco smoke, through its actions on non-coding RNA, can lead to the onset of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. She conducted her research under the guidance of Weg Ongkeko, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the division of head and neck surgery in the department of surgery at UC San Diego School of Medicine. Kim plans to graduate in 2015 and hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in molecular biology.

“I was honored to represent UC San Diego this year,” said Kim, a junior from Eleanor Roosevelt College. “This recognition will help me pursue my goal of enrolling in medical school. Ultimately, I would like to pursue a dual degree that will allow me to help my community and conduct research that saves lives.”

Saad, a junior who received an honorable mention from the Goldwater organization, also conducted his research in Ongkeko’s lab. “When I saw my name on the list of this year’s scholars I was thrilled, and to see that my colleague, Elizabeth Kim, won the scholarship made the moment even greater,” said Saad, who studies possible mechanisms for the initiation and progression of oropharyngeal cancer.

“The next generation of physician-scientists is alive and well as embodied by these students,” said Ongkeko, who works with Kim and Saad.

For more information about undergraduate research opportunities at UC San Diego, visit the Academic Enrichment Programs webpage.

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