April 19, 2018

UAB STEM undergraduates honored by Goldwater scholarship competition

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sidhanth gunnar mwSidhanth Chandra, left, and Gunnar EastepTwo University of Alabama at Birmingham students have been honored by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Gunnar Eastep was named a 2018 Goldwater Scholar, joining the group of 27 UAB students to date who have been named. Sidhanth Chandra received an honorable mention from the foundation.

Each year, UAB may nominate up to four outstanding sophomore and junior students in the math, science and engineering 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.

Eastep was selected from a pool of more than 1,200 student-applicants from colleges and universities nationwide and were among just 211 students who received the award. The scholars were selected based on their academic achievements outlined in the nominations submitted by faculty members.

The two UAB students recognized this year are:

Gunnar Eastep (St. Paul, Minnesota) is a junior majoring in chemistry in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the Honors College’s Science and Technology Honors Program. He conducts research in the field of structural biology under Jamil Saad, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, and will continue his research through the UAB Honors College Presidential Summer Fellowship. His ultimate goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in biophysics.

“Winning the Goldwater scholarship is a great honor,” Eastep said. “It’s an affirmation of everything I’ve been doing as an undergraduate and aspiring scientist. I’ve gained the confidence to achieve my lifelong career goal of becoming a scientist.”

Sidhanth Chandra (Tuscaloosa, Alabama) is a neuroscience and genetics and genomic sciences major in the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Medicine and is a member of the Honors College’s Science and Technology Honors Program. He conducts research in the lab of Andrew West, Ph.D., in the Department of Neurology. Last summer, Chandra was one of six undergraduates selected to participate in the UAB Honors Summer Research Academy, and this summer he will stay at UAB to conduct a research project funded by a grant he received from the Parkinson’s Foundation and the American Parkinson Disease Association. Recently, he gave an oral presentation at the Society for Neuroscience 2017 Conference in Washington, D.C. Chandra plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in molecular neuroscience and conduct translational research on underlying mechanisms and develop therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative diseases.

“Being recognized by the Barry Goldwater Foundation is a huge honor and gives me the confidence to pursue a career in research and be successful,” Chandra said. “This honor will help me in competing for entry into prestigious graduate programs. All credit for this honor goes to my wonderful mentors.”

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.