Five Columbians Named Goldwater Scholars

Five Columbians Named Goldwater Scholars

Left to Right: Pablo Buitrago, Zachary Lihn, Neha Mani, Will Specht, Clara Victorio

Columbia is proud to announce that five students have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships, the preeminent undergraduate award in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Through the Scholarship, the following awardees have received funding for their respective fields of study:

  • Pablo Buitrago SEAS’25: originally from Bogota, Colombia, Pablo went to school in St Louis, Missouri before moving joining the Columbia community, where he is pursuing a major in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Economics. His research in the Marbella Lab has focused on characterizing electrolyte and electrode properties in Li-ion and K-ion batteries, in a search for sustainable solutions to more efficient energy storage. Pablo’s PI and lab mentors encouraged him to apply for the Goldwater.

  • Zachary Lihn CC’25: born and raised in Piscataway, New Jersey, Zachary is majoring in mathematics. His interests lie in the field of algebraic and differential geometry, with a focus on special geometric structures coming from moduli spaces and mathematical physics. A Science Research Fellow (SRF), Zachary has conducted research with Professor Mikhail Khovanov in the math department at Columbia, and he has conducted research with Professor Lev Borisov at the Rutgers DIMACS REU. Zachary plans on pursuing a research career and obtaining a PhD in mathematics.

  • Neha Mani CC’25: hailing from the Bronx, NY, Neha is majoring in Biochemistry and concentrating in Linguistics at Columbia. As a Laidlaw Scholar, Neha conducted summer research at the Mancia lab at Columbia and led a summer research mentorship program for high schoolers. During the academic year, she works with the Ozcan lab at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Shankar lab at the University of Michigan to computationally distinguish biophysical characteristics of bacterial motility as a potential diagnostic tool for inflammatory gut diseases. In the future, she hopes to pursue an MD/PhD degree and combine her research and clinical practice.

  • Will Specht SEAS’25: from Massachusetts, Will Specht is majoring in biomedical engineering. In his research, he has worked for the past two years at the Farber lab at Columbia’s Medical Campus, working to develop computational tools for single cell sequencing and to use those tools to better understand human immunology. He also leads the development of computational biology workshops as a part of Columbia’s Systems Biology Initiative, teaching undergraduates about core concepts in the world of computational biology, including the various sequencing technologies in the market and various approaches to dimensionality reduction.

  • Clara Victorio SEAS’25: Clara is from Houston, and, through the Combined Plan Program she is pursuing a BS in chemical engineering at Columbia and a BS in chemistry and minor in mathematics at Fordham University. Clara has joined the Obermeyer Group at Columbia, where she engages in projects focused on protein engineering. Her work at the Sawyer Lab at Fordham has been dedicated to synthesizing peptides designed to inhibit specific protein-protein interactions implicated in human disease. Ultimately, Clara aspires to pursue a PhD in chemical engineering.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Columbia students interested in learning more about applying for the Goldwater Scholarship program are encouraged to connect with Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.