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Goldwater Scholarship for Shweta Mudelagundi

January 2020
Goldwater Scholarship for Shweta Mudelagundi

Atlanta resident Shwetha Mudalegundi, a University of Miami senior double majoring in neuroscience and public health and a member of the Foote Fellow Honors Program, has been selected from over 5,000 nominated students to receive the Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation award for the 2019-20 academic year.

This prestigious award was instituted in 1986 by Congress to honor students in the fields of natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Shweta received this $7,500 award for her contribution to multiple sclerosis research at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysisis.

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"Growing up, Mudalegundi became captivated with inquiry-based research when she was forced to participate in her seventh grade science fair. She quickly realized that she enjoyed proposing her own questions and then devising the methodology to answer those very questions. By high school, Mudalegundi began canvassing local universities and laboratories in her hometown of Atlanta to gain hands on experience. By the time she enrolled at UM, she had conducted research at two different institutions. Last year, she applied for the Goldwater Scholarship and received honorable mention. She felt it was necessary to try her hand once more, as this recognition meant a lot to her and her parents.

“This scholarship is well-known among undergrads in the research community,” said Mudalegundi, who has enjoyed designing her own academic curriculum as a member of the Foote Fellow Honors Program. “This was something that I really wanted because I knew that they provided funds to help with college expenses, but I also wanted to be recognized for my research. This recognition will stay with me forever.”

Today, she is a double major in neuroscience and public health and is conducting research on multiple sclerosis under the leadership of associate professor Roberta Brambilla at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. In the lab, Mudalegundi studies receptors in mice to identify a therapeutic target that works directly in the MS pathway. “I cold emailed Dr. Brambilla my freshman year and since she has been the most supportive mentor who has put so much trust in me,” said Mudalegundi. “She has allowed me to do my own project. She truly took me in the world of neuroscience and has shown me unwavering support.” This summer, Mudalegundi participated in research to study neurodegenerative diseases and their effect on the brain and nervous system at the University of Iowa Neuroscience Institute."

And a note from her dance school, Natya Dhaara, in 2016, said, "June 28, 2016 · Congratulations to our student Shweta Mudalegundi for receiving award from Women in Technology (WIT) and a full scholarship at University of Miami. Shweta has always been very passionate about science and research. Two of her most memorable projects were studying an animal model of Multiple Sclerosis at UAB Civitan International Research Center and studying various Imaging Modalities used to diagnose and treat Thyroid Cancer at Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University. Her MS project placed first at the Georgia Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and she got to take it to the National level JSHS in Washington D.C. Her research with thyroid cancer was published in the Journal of Thyroid Disorders and Therapy. Getting published while in high school is no easy achievement. She also worked to create Junior Civitan at her school, an organization that works to develop interaction between special education students and "regular" education students at her school. She will be attending University of Miami on a full scholarship and is planning to major in neuroscience while on the pre-med track. As part of the Foote Fellow Program and PRISM Program (Advanced Program for Integrated Science and Math) she hopes to continue to explore further possibilities and continue her passion for research."

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