2 College Students Named Goldwater Scholars
Posted in News Story | Tagged Awards, Biology of Global Health, Department of Biology, Student
Two students in the College of Arts & Sciences – Naomi Greenberg (C’24) and Roma Dhingra (C’24) – were named 2023 Goldwater Scholars.
Given to cultivate the next generation of talent in the fields of mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences, the Goldwater Scholarship is among the most prestigious awards for undergraduate researchers. Established by Congress in 1986, the fund provides up to $7,500 to sophomores and juniors for up to two years.
This year’s applicant pool of more than 5,000 qualified students resulted in just 413 recipients.
Greenberg, a biology major, has been conducting research with Manus Patten, a teaching professor in the Department of Biology, exploring theoretical evolutionary genetics.
“In my research, I model the evolution of biased X-chromosome inactivation. X inactivation is the process that ‘turns off’ the expression of one of the two X chromosomes in each female cell,” said Greenberg. “Using equations from population genetics to simulate evolution, I show that sex-specific conflict within genes, known as sexual antagonism, may drive the invasion of a gene that biases X chromosome inactivation.”
Greenberg’s course load has focused on molecular biology and molecular genetics, supplementing her research in evolutionary genetics.
“Understanding genetics from both a molecular and an evolutionary lens helps me understand how and why life works the way it does,” said Greenberg.
This summer, Greenberg will be working in the lab of Takashi Akera at the National Institutes of Health. Greenberg plans to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology.
For Greenberg, the mentorship provided within the College of Arts & Sciences has been instrumental to her success.
“My favorite thing about Georgetown is the extensive mentorship I have received,” said Greenberg. “Prof. Patten has been an amazing mentor, encouraging me to take on challenges like applying for Goldwater. All the professors I have had in the biology department have affirmed and supported me with my goals. Students at Georgetown are also great mentors to each other, and I have been lucky to have such inspiring peers.”
Dhingra, a biology of global health major, has been conducting research with Rebecca Reed, a professor and researcher in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Psychology. In the Reed lab, Dhingra’s research has focused on how psychosocial factors like stress affect health and aging outcomes in older adults.
“I’m involved in many projects at the Reed Lab, including my own independent project where I investigate how discrimination is associated with biological aging markers,” said Dhingra. “Through my research, I found that experiencing discrimination events can significantly impact biological aging trends and shorten the lifespan.”
Dhingra has also conducted summer research at CVPath Institute, a medical research organization, under the mentorship of Aloke Finn, MD. Dhingra’s interdisciplinary coursework has been closely tied to her research.
“I really appreciate how my major, Biology of Global Health, has contributed to shaping my research interests regarding the intersection of social determinants of health and physical health outcomes,” said Dhingra. “My research is interdisciplinary and so is my major. I’ve had super interesting conversations about my research topic with my professors from a variety of disciplines, ranging from social sciences to the hard sciences, all of which have contributed to my growth.”
After graduating, Dhingra plans to pursue a career as a physician-researcher, a pathway she’s seen firsthand working alongside Dr. Finn. She plans to focus on how psychosocial interventions can alter cancer progression and outcomes through clinical research.
“I’m really interested in applying my biopsychology background to medical treatment and research, particularly with a focus on cancer,” said Dhingra.
Right now, however, she’s just enjoying the moment and grateful for the opportunity to continue researching and learning.
“Receiving the Goldwater Scholarship has validated my research interests and career aspirations. I’m so excited to be joining the highly motivated group of scholars in the Goldwater Community,” said Dhingra. “Along with my parents and friends, I couldn’t have done this without all my research and Georgetown mentors, especially Rebecca Reed, her graduate student Abby Hillmann, Professor Heidi Elmendorf at Georgetown and Dr. Finn at CVPath Institute.”
-by Hayden Frye (C’17)