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Four COE Students Awarded Goldwater Scholarships

Minhal Ahmed, BioE’19, Kritika Singh, BioE’20, Elizabeth Wig, EE’20, and Isaac Kresse, S/CompE’19, were awarded the 2018 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the United States’ premier award for outstanding young researchers in STEM fields. The Goldwater Scholarship is a highly competitive, merit-based award for students majoring in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering who are interested in pursuing careers in research.


Minhal Ahmed, COE’19

Minhal Ahmed E’19, bioengineering major, mathematics minor
Mentors:

  • Court Hull, Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center
  • Abigail Koppes, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University
  • Jeffrey Ruberti, Professor of Bioengineering, Northeastern University

As a high school senior in New York, Minhal Ahmed discovered his passion for neurobiology through Columbia University’s Science Honors Program. Minhal is “a rare convergence of pure curiosity and ability,” one mentor says. He is not only brilliant and hard-working, but exudes an infectious enthusiasm for scientific inquiry. At Northeastern, Ahmed chose to study bioengineering because of the field’s potential to transform medical care through novel technologies. Ahmed has complemented his studies with research experience in Northeastern’s Advanced Biomaterials for NeuroEngineering Laboratory (ABNEL), as well as research co-ops in a neurobiology lab at Duke University School of Medicine, where he led a pilot project studying cerebellar circuit function during locomotion, and at Editas Therapuetics, where he researched novel gene therapies based on CRISPR/Cas9 technology. His current co-op at Mass General focuses on the enteric nervous system. Outside the classroom, he’s volunteered at local hospitals, tutored high school students, and offered health education at the Peer Health Exchange. Minhal, who earned an Honorable Mention in the 2017 Goldwater Scholarship competition, plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in Bioengineering and build a research career as a physician-scientist. Minhal is a member of the University Scholars Program and an Honors student.


Kritika Singh COE '20
Kritika Singh COE ’20

Kritika Singh E’20, bioengineering major, chemistry minor
Mentors:

  • Michael Jaeggli, Assistant Teaching Professor of Bioengineering, Northeastern University
  • Lee Makowski, Professor and Chair of Bioengineering and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University
  • Ralph Mazitschek, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School
  • Oyinda Oyelaran, Associate Teaching Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University
  • Michael Pollastri, Professor and Chair of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University

Inspired by an internship at Acetylon Pharmaceuticals, Kritika Singh founded Malaria Free World—a nonprofit that advocates for malaria research and eradication—at age 16. From high school to the present, Kritika has immersed herself in research at impressive institutions, including Harvard Medical School, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, and Massachusetts General Hospital. She brings enthusiasm and curiosity to every task, pushing herself to problem-solve and expand her expertise. “She is the real deal: highly intelligent, exceptionally hard-working, dedicated, and a team player,” one advisor says. In the lab, Kritika quickly masters techniques and produces publication-quality results. At MGH, for example, she tackled a complex project that required knowledge of several fields, including organic synthesis and computational biology, and she overcame unexpected challenges to perform at an advanced level. A bioengineering major with minors in Chemistry and Global Health, Singh’s latest project on epigenetic modulation brings together her cross-disciplinary interests. Singh aspires to earn an M.D./Ph.D. and to employ molecular research in translational therapies that will have appreciable impacts on patient care. Singh is a member of the University Scholars and Honors Programs from McLean, VA.


Elizabeth Wig COE '20
Elizabeth Wig COE ’20

Elizabeth Wig E’20, electrical engineering major, mathematics minor
Mentors:

  • Carey Rappaport, Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University
  • Purnima Ratilal Makris, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Northeastern University
  • Steven Spector, Principal Member, Draper Laboratory

Elizabeth Wig studies electrical engineering and mathematics at Northeastern, with a primary interest in the diverse, high-impact applications of electromagnetics for communication and sensing. Elizabeth is fascinated by electromagnetics, a field with a wide range of applications. At NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, she helped test and demonstrate the viability of a radar system for an autonomous vehicle. At ALERT, a security-focused research center based at Northeastern, she helped refine a model for detecting explosive materials in airport scanners. And at the R&D company Draper, she worked on creating a proof-of-concept for a technology used in self-driving cars. As one mentor notes: “Elizabeth has the drive to seek new solutions, revise and improve, and stick with a problem until it is solved.” These research experiences have allowed Wig to apply her knowledge of electromagnetics to problems as diverse as threat detection, LIDAR optimization, cellular phone technology, and radar for drones. Wig, a University Scholar and Honors student from Northborough, MA, plans to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and conduct research in either an academic or industrial setting.


Isaac Kresse, S/E ’19

Isaac Kresse, S/E’19, double major in chemistry and computer engineering
Mentors:

  • Ganesh S. Anand, Associate Professor of Biological Science, National University of Singapore
  • John R. Engen, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University
  • Lisa Tucker-Kellogg, Assistant Professor, Cancer & Stem Cell Biology, Duke-NUS Medical School

A University Scholar and Honors student, Isaac Kresse is pursuing dual degrees in chemistry and computer engineering in order to harness the power of algorithmic processing to discern otherwise invisible patterns in the vast amounts of data that biochemical experiments often generate. Kresse’s interest in chemistry, first sparked at Gatton Academy, a math-and-science-focused school in his home state of Kentucky, has led him to conduct research not only at the lab of Northeastern Professor John Engen, but also at SINTEF, an independent research organization in Trondheim, Norway, and at the National University of Singapore. Kresse’s next research position will be at Harvard Medical School, where he will be tasked with developing microfluidics to enable single-cell genomic analysis of brain cells. Kresse plans to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry and aspires to lead a research group studying protein chemistry.

To prepare for a biochemistry career, Isaac has pursued rigorous coursework and research experience. He has specialized in chemistry and computer engineering to gain an expansive skillset with which to approach biochemical problems. Applying computer algorithms to the vast amounts of data involved in biochemistry can reveal surprising patterns and solutions, Isaac notes. Mentors say Isaac has a unique ability to learn theory and then put it into practice. While assisting with research in labs at Northeastern, Harvard Medical School, the University of Singapore, and the Norway-based research group SINTEF, he’s exhibited an advanced level of expertise, a collaborative spirit, and a desire to always learn more. Says one advisor: “Isaac is absolutely destined for a very meaningful and rewarding career in scientific research.”

Related Departments:Bioengineering, Electrical & Computer Engineering