DENTON (UNT), Texas — Two students from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas were named 2022 Goldwater Scholars — Neel Shanmugam and Anay Gupta.
The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards in the country awarded to students pursuing careers in math, science and engineering. Since 1996, UNT has produced 70 Goldwater Scholars — more than any other Texas university.
“The Goldwater Foundation recognizes the brightest and most innovative young scientists in the country,” said James Duban, associate dean of research for TAMS and the Honors College. “Anay and Neel, working under generous faculty mentors, have brought added distinction to themselves, to TAMS and to UNT generally.”
Learn more about UNT’s 2022 Goldwater Scholars:
Neel Shanmugam worked with chemistry professor William Acree to characterize environmentally friendly chemical solvents. He placed fourth internationally in the biochemistry portion of the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair for research studying a PARP-1 cancer variant and potential inhibitors.
Shanmugam served as president of the TAMS Research Organization, helping his peers locate research opportunities, prepare for research competitions and volunteer at local middle schools. A native of Richardson, Texas, Shanumgum aspires to earn a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry. He would like to conduct research synthesizing computational and analytical chemistry methods to develop safer replacements for existing environmentally hazardous solvents and drugs.
Anay Gupta worked in the research laboratory of Regents Professor of Chemistry Thomas Cundari and others from the Broad Institute and Stanford University to investigate the relation between genomics and drug resistance with a computational analysis of 25 different cancerous cell lines treated with a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs at different doses, predictive deep-learning modeling and methane functionalization.
Gupta was a bronze finalist in the International GENIUS Olympiad, a member of the TAMS Early Summer Research Class and a third-place finisher in the Texas Science and Engineering Fair’s biomedical health sciences category. The Plano, Texas, resident would like to pursue a Ph.D. in computational biology. He hopes to conduct bioinformatics research to discover, via deep learning and single-cell genomics, cancer therapeutics and transform health care through precision medicine.
“Besides making fantastic intellectual contributions through research, these splendid students make contributions that benefit society overall as well as the local community,” said Glênisson de Oliveira, dean of TAMS and the Honors College. “Their interest in mentoring younger future scientists and in helping to solve today’s environmental issues are a testament to these students’ minds and hearts, and to the value of the holistic education UNT offers.”
Winners of the Goldwater Scholarship are awarded up to $7,500 to help cover costs of tuition, fees, books, room and board. They are chosen based on their research, grade point averages and different achievements. The UNT nominating and mentoring committee included Jannon Fuchs, professor of biological sciences; Sushama Dandekar, principal lecturer in chemistry; Thomas Scharf, professor of materials science and engineering; Chris Littler, professor of physics and James Duban, professor of English and associate dean for research and national scholarships.