Sai Gourisankar, a Plan II Honors and Chemical Engineering Honors second-year student was one of three undergraduates at The University of Texas at Austin awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award of its type in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Gourisankar was recognized for innovative biomedical research he’s conducting under the guidance of chemical engineering professor Keith P. Johnston.
Gourisankar is helping Johnston’s lab design gold nanoclusters for biomedical therapy and imaging. Molecular and cellular imaging techniques can reveal real-time changes of various biomolecules associated with cancer and other diseases. “Imagine the ability to localize therapy to a small number of malignant cells, with minimal impact on surrounding healthy tissue,” Gourisankar said. Professor Johnston and Gourisankar are collaborating with professors Kostia Sokolov and Stanislav Emelianov (biomedical engineering); Tom Truskett (chemical engineering), as well as (graduate students) Avi Murthy and Bobby Stover and undergraduate Golay Nie.
The one- and two-year scholarships, awarded annually to outstanding second- and third-year college students, will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. The United States Congress established The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman.
The 275 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from 1,095 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law in 1986. The scholarship program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.
Gourisankar is a Dedman Distinguished Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts. The Dedman Distinguished Scholarship Program is a four-year, merit-based scholarship for students with exceptional academic records. With an award of $20,000 per year with a $10,000 supplement for study abroad and research recipients are freed from the financial pressures of college, enabling them to focus fully on their academic studies, pursue their research interests, study abroad, participate in community service, and take advantage of enrichment opportunities at the university and in the city of Austin. Dedman Scholars become part of a close-knit community within a large university and receive advising and mentoring from top faculty. Gourisankar is from Fort Worth, Texas where he attended R.L. Paschal High School. His long-term goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and to conduct research in nanomaterials and catalysis, as well as teach at the university level.