Three University of Pennsylvania undergraduates in the School of Arts & Sciences have received 2021 Goldwater Scholarships, awarded to sophomores or juniors planning research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.
Penn’s 2021 Goldwater Scholars are sophomore Emma Keeler from Rochester, Massachusetts; junior Michele Meline from Philadelphia; and junior Max Wragan from Washington, D.C.
They are among the 410 students named 2021 Goldwater Scholars from the 1,256 students nominated by 438 academic institutions in the United States, according to the Barry Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Foundation. Each scholarship provides up to $7,500 annually for up to two years of undergraduate study.
Penn has produced 18 Goldwater Scholars in the past six years and a total of 50 Scholars since Congress established the scholarship in 1986.
Emma Keeler is pursuing a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in biology concurrently. She works in the Bushman Lab with Frederic Bushman, the William Maul Measey Professor in Microbiology, studying the newly discovered viral family Redondoviridae. She also conducts computational work for two projects within the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Division of Infectious Diseases involving S. pneumoniae and SARS-CoV-2. She has conducted research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution related to the recovery of clinically relevant fungi from hydrothermally derived sediments. This summer her research in the Bushman Lab will be funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Undergraduate Translational Research Internship Program.
At Penn, Keeler is a University Scholar, Marks Family Writing Fellow, and a Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships research peer advisor. She is the recipient of research grants from Penn’s College Alumni Society, as well as the Marjot Foundation, and Kurt Giessler Foundation. She is editor of the Penn Bioethics Journal and founder and president of the Penn Infectious Disease Club. Keller is dedicated to fostering an interest in the field of infectious diseases. She intends to pursue a Ph.D. in microbiology or virology and conduct applied microbiological research to inform the downstream development of diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics.
Michele Meline is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and biophysics with a minor in Hispanic studies and submatriculating to earn a master’s degree in chemistry. A recipient of the Roy and Diana Vagelos Challenge Award, her current research with Jeremy Wilusz, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics, focuses on the biogenesis, functions, and regulations of circular RNAs in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. She has also worked with Melanie Ruffner, assistant professor of pediatrics, on the polygenic risks of eosinophilic esophagitis.
Meline tutors undergraduates in chemistry and math, is an editor for the UnEarthed Penn student-run publication, and mentors high school students through the American Chemical Society Scholars Program. She is also the recipient of a Merck American Chemical Society Scholar Award. She completed a virtual internship last summer through the American Physician Scientist Association while simultaneously completing a literature review through the Wilusz Lab. Meline intends to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in biochemistry and research genomic based therapies for disease.
Max Wragan is majoring in neuroscience and minoring in chemistry. She began her research in molecular biology working to identify the function of sulfur-reducing proteins. Wragan was awarded Pincus-Magaziner Family Undergraduate Research and Travel Fund support for her thesis work exploring the role of microglia in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in the Eisch Lab with Amelia Eisch, professor of anesthesiology and critical care, at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She has received funding to conduct research at the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, Pomona College, and Penn.
Wragan is the co-president and founder of the Satellite Learning Program, a virtual service that provides free one-on-one tutoring to K-12 students for which she received the Student Creativity Grant from The Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity. She has recently founded a branch of this program at Penn that works to tutor homeless youth in Philadelphia. At Penn, she tutors biology and chemistry, and she volunteers at the VA hospital’s COVID clinic. She plans to earn an M.D./Ph.D. in neuroscience to further expand her neuroscience research.
The students applied for the Goldwater Scholarship with assistance from Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.