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Two University students awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

May 7, 2018
portrait of two studentsAudrey Goldfarb ‘19 and Allen Chen ’19 are the University’s 2018 recipients of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. (University of Rochester photos / J. Adam Fenster)

Allen Chen ’19 and Audrey Goldfarb ’19 are the University’s 2018 recipients of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious undergraduate awards given in the sciences.

Chen is a neuroscience major from Clarence, New York, while Goldfarb is a biology major from Honeoye Falls, New York.

Officially known as the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, it was authorized by Congress in 1986 as a way to develop a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding merit-based scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who plan to pursue careers in those fields.

It’s named in recognition of the late U.S. Senator for his nearly 60 years of public service.

The Goldwater board of trustees awarded 211 scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year from a field of 1,280 students nominated by campus representatives from more than 2,000 colleges and universities. An additional 281 nominees were named honorable mention, including Fiona Nichols-Fleming ’19, a physics and astronomy major at the University.

“Goldwater Scholars are not only stellar students, they’re also research rock stars in the making,” says Belinda Redden, director of the University’s Fellowships Office. “Getting the University of Rochester nomination and succeeding at the national level requires a strong record of interest, participation, and accomplishment in independent research.”

Each scholarship is worth up to $7,500. Chen and Goldfarb intend to use the money toward their senior year’s tuition.

Chen has been involved in research every semester and summer since the spring of his freshman year, including his work in the Nedergaard Lab and the Cognitive Neurophysiology Lab. He spent the summer before his sophomore year at Johns Hopkins University, studying the effects of core body temperature on dendritic spine density.

Chen is also a 2018 recipient of the Amgen Scholarship, which provides hundreds of undergraduates an opportunity to engage in hands-on health-related research during the summer at some of the world’s leading institutions. He’ll be working in a lab at the University of California-San Francisco, researching how visual information is processed in retina cone-to-cone bipolar synapses, and how this is impacted by disease.

He plans to pursue a PhD in neuroscience or biomedical engineering, and his career goal is to become a principal investigator developing safe invasive brain-computer interfaces.

Goldfarb is interested in the epigenetic factors that influence gene regulation as well as many disease phenotypes independent of DNA sequence. Over the past two years, she has worked on several research projects in the Department of Biology with professors Vera Gorbunova and Andre Seluanov relating to the epigenetics of aging and cancer, using long-lived rodent species as model organisms.

She’ll be part of a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Rockefeller University, an elite research institution in New York City. Goldfarb will be working with Dr.  Agata Smogorzewska using CRISPR-Cas9 to validate candidate genes involved in DNA damage repair, a process that commonly malfunctions in age-associated diseases such as cancer.

Goldfarb intends to pursue her doctoral degree and ultimately be a principal investigator at a research university, where she can conduct research as well as teach.


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