Three juniors selected as Goldwater Scholars

Fluegel, Li and Wang committed to improving human health through research

Three students at Washington University in St. Louis have received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious award that honors students who conduct research in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. WashU winners were among the 500 scholars selected among an applicant pool of some 5,000 college sophomores and juniors.

Goldwater Scholars Makenna Fluegel, Aidan Li and Sean Wang
Makenna Fluegel (left), Aidan Li and Sean Wang (Photo: Washington University)

The winners are:

Makenna Fluegel, a junior majoring in biology on the neuroscience track in Arts & Sciences, wants to pursue an MD/PhD to treat and research chronic pain. A first-generation student from rural Missouri, Fluegel hopes to develop alternative pain treatments and to launch a science outreach program for rural communities. She was selected to join the university’s prestigious ENDURE research program and studied the role of endocannabinoid receptors in modulating pain as a researcher in the lab of Rob Gereau, director of the Washington University Pain Center.

Fluegel also is a volunteer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and a resident advisor.

Aidan Li, a junior majoring in chemistry in Arts & Sciences, plans to earn a PhD in molecular biology studying the mechanisms that underlie disease. His experience includes studying the regulation of stem cells in lung cancer at The Ohio State University and contributing to published research by Harrison W. Gabel, an associate professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine, about the etiology of Sotos syndrome, autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

Li also is a volunteer for the Food Recovery Network, which delivers extra food from campus cafeterias to area shelters. 

Sean Wang, a junior majoring in biochemistry in Arts & Sciences, wants to earn a PhD in materials immunology to investigate how engineered biomaterials, such as polymers and chemicals, interact with immune cells. He has conducted research in the lab of Srikanth Singamaneni, the Lilyan & E. Lisle Hughes Professor at McKelvey Engineering, working to improve the affordability, shelf life and sensitivity of diagnostic tests such as COVID-19 rapid tests.

Wang also is a trombonist in the WashU Wind Ensemble, treasurer of the Student Investment Fund a platinum Teamfight Tactics player.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.