Midwest universities lead with Indian-American winners of Goldwater Scholarship


More than three dozen Indian-American students were named Barry Goldwater Scholars for 2019. They are among the 496 selected from a nationally competitive field of 1,223 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by their colleges and universities.

Around forty one Indian-Americans from various states won the prestigious scholarship, the largest number (8) from the Midwest; 6 from California; 7 from Tri-state; and 4 from Pennsylvania.

The Goldwater scholarship, which is named for the late Republican senator from Arizona and presented by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, covers up to $7,500 in tuition, books and related fees during the 2019-20 academic year for Kumar, who is a UIC Honors College member.

Wasan Kumar, sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is among more than 40 Indian-American students around the country to win the 2019 Goldwater Scholarship. (Photo courtesy University of Illinois at Chicago)

Wasan Kumar, a sophomore in neuroscience at the University of Illinois, Chicago, is just one example of what Indian-American youth are involved in for the future of technology and science in the United States. Seven others of Indian origin won the scholarship from various higher education institutions in Illinois (see table below).

Kumar has conducted research on the effects of heavy metals in promoting cardiovascular diseases in the laboratory of Dr. Andre Kajdacsy-Balla, professor of pathology in the UIC College of Medicine.

He already has presented findings from these investigations at six conferences — four national and two internal — and submitted two manuscripts for review, the press release said.

“My research looks specifically at the influence of cadmium on increasing the uptake of lipids by macrophage cells in vitro, which is a crucial first step in the progression of atherosclerosis,” Kumar is quoted saying. Apart from the Goldwater Scholarship, Kumar has received grants from the Liberal Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Initiative and the Honors College. “Developing projects like this from start to finish has taken a lot of work but has really energized me towards pursuing research.”

A research area of personal relevance to Kumar is the disproportionately high rates of cardiovascular diseases in South Asian populations. Kumar is also the president-elect of the Indian Students Association and as a Global Asian Studies minor.

“This project has allowed me to collaborate with a number of UIC departments and researchers, as well as abroad with researchers in India,” he said.

His future academic goals are to earn a medical degree with a focus in molecular pathology and a Ph.D. in epidemiology, which he will combine to establish a career as a physician-scientist devoted to improving public health.

“My specific research interest is to understand the disease model through a macroscopic population-based lens while considering heterogeneity between individuals at the molecular level,” he said. “This will help tackle a variety of health disparities.”

Kumar, a 2017 graduate of the Illinois Math and Science Academy, also is a health educator and leadership council member for the Peer Health Exchange, a nonprofit organization that teaches health education to inner-city high school freshmen.

His university honors include the Chancellor’s Service and Leadership Award and the Maurice Prize, an undergraduate innovation competition.



U of Illinois, Chicago – Nikhil Pandit, Wasan Kumar

U of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign – Philip Kocheril

Michigan State U – Mohit Bansil

Creighton U, Nebraska – Siddharth Venkatraman

U of Cincinnati – Chinmay Bakshi, Nihar Rama

University of Wisconsin- Madison – Luquant Singh


Cal instit of tech – Gokul Gowri

Stanford – Maya Varma, Sahaj Garg, Bhavish Dinakar

UCLA – Anshul Adve,

UCal, Riverside – Amrik Kang,


UConn – Saurabh Kumar

Yale – Rahul Nagvekar

Rutgers U, NJ – Rikab Gambhir

College of New Jersey – Avi Shah

Columbia U, NY – Amar Bhardwaj, Maya Talukdar

Cornell U, NY – Kabir Kapoor


Penn State U Park – Ananda Rankin

UPenn – Srinivas Mandyam

University of Pittsburgh – Swapna Subramanian, Teja Peddada,


U of Delaware – Yasmin Mann

Georgia Instit of Tech – Sherry Sarkar

Georgia Southern U – Nitheyaa Shree Ramesh

Johns Hopkins – Vinay Ayyappan

Harvard – Abijith Krishnan

MIT – Ashwin Sah

Duke U,NC – Azim Dharani, Kunal Shroff

North Carolina State U – Nikhil Milind

Brown U, Rhode Island – Tara Thakurta

Fisk U, Tennessee – Anisha Mittal

Vanderbilt U, Tennessee – Aakash Basu

Rice U, TX – Sahil Patel

U of North Texas – Rishi Shridharan

U of Texas at Dallas – Vyom Raval

University of Washington – Irika Sinha




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