Three UAB STEM undergraduates named Goldwater Scholars

UAB students continue Honors College legacy with recognition as Goldwater Scholars.

GoldwaterJoomlaL-R Baraa Hijaz, Holly Robinson, Garrett Sager Three University of Alabama at Birmingham students have been named 2019 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Baraa Hijaz, Garrett Sager and Holly Robinson — all neuroscience majors and members of the UAB Honors College — join the group of 29 UAB students to date who have been named.

Each year, UAB may nominate up to four outstanding sophomore and junior students in the science, technology, engineering and math fields for scholarships awarded by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

The foundation grants each recipient a scholarship for the 2018-2019 academic year that covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

The three UAB students recognized this year are:

Baraa Hijaz (Montgomery, Alabama), a neuroscience and philosophy major in the College of Arts and Sciences. He studies in the lab of Laura Volpicelli-Daley, Ph.D., and aims to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. and develop new drug and genetic therapies for Parkinson’s disease. Hijaz has already co-written two peer-reviewed publications and has a third under review. Additionally, he participated in the Amgen Scholars Program at Stanford University, and completed the UAB Surgery Undergraduate Research Experience. Hijaz is a member of the UAB Honors College’s Science and Technology Honors Program.

“This award is just as much a recognition of my accomplishments as it is of the unparalleled mentorship I have been able to receive,” Hijaz said. “I am honored and beyond grateful for their support, and am looking forward to all the great, young scientists UAB will continue to cultivate in the coming years.”

Garrett Sager (Hoover, Alabama), a neuroscience and physics major working in the labs of Elizabeth Sztul, Ph.D., and Ryoichi Kawai, Ph.D. He plans to obtain a doctorate in biophysics and study the neurophysics of learning and memory. Sager is first author of a publication in Viruses and a contributing author to a publication in the American Journal of Physiology-Cell Physiology. Sager is a member of the Science and Technology Honors Program.

“I would definitely give more credit to factors around me more than anything I personally did,” Sager said on his selection. “Without my mentors holding me to a high standard, the science and technology honors program introducing me to research early, and Dr. Kuntz and Dr. Cook fervently helping me through the application process, I probably would not have been offered this award. So, I feel their hard work, along with the other UAB professors who helped me along the way, deserves most of the credit.”

Holly Robinson (Cedartown, Georgia), a neuroscience major with a minor in music. She works in the lab of Dr. Lucas Pozzo-Miller and has already earned authorship on a publication and presented her work at national conferences. Robinson plans to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience and conduct research on the circuitry underlying social communication behaviors. She is pursuing a personalized path in the UAB Honors College.

“Receiving the Goldwater Scholarship is an honor to me because it means there are distinguished scientists who think that I can and will succeed in a career in science,” Robinson said. “Receiving this honor has given me a sense that perhaps a career in science isn’t as far-fetched as I once believed.”

The Goldwater Scholarship program began in 1989 with the purpose of encouraging outstanding students to pursue careers in engineering, mathematics and the natural sciences. Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has bestowed 8,132 scholarships worth approximately $65 million.