VILLANOVA, PA — Villanova University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences juniors Stefanie (Stef) Allen and Gina Ngo have been named 2023 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Allen and Ngo were selected from more than 1,200 institution-nominated students nationwide and will receive scholarships to further their research in STEM fields.
“As Goldwater Scholars, Stefanie and Gina will have a remarkable opportunity to further their work as student-scholars. Both are following in the footsteps of previous Goldwater Scholars and Villanova recipients, many of whom have gone on to excel as researchers in prestigious post-graduate fellowships,” said University Provost Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD. “On behalf of the entire Villanova community, I congratulate Stefanie and Gina on this honor and thank the faculty and staff who have helped them achieve their academic goals.”
Stefanie (Stef) Allen CLAS ’24, is a Chemistry major whose ambition of a research career in green chemistry stemmed from her experiences growing up in Rutland, Vt. Allen decided to study chemistry to discover the ways in which science can lead to sustainable innovation, and quickly determined that Dr. Scott Kassel’s inorganic synthetic research team was the place where she wanted to learn, grow and invest her time at Villanova. Following her first year of studies, Allen was awarded a 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship to create new compounds to be used as ligands and as catalysts in water oxidation. Allen continued her research as a sophomore, and in 2022, was awarded a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellows (VURF) grant to research Cobalt(III) polypyridyl complexes. In Fall 2022, Allen studied at the University of Freiburg, located in Germany’s Black Forest, and her fieldwork in the Swiss Alps fortified her resolve to pursue a research career. Allen envisions how green chemistry can transform agriculture, sustainability and food security—and ultimately impact countless lives. Outside of the lab, Allen is a Chemistry adviser for prospective and new students and volunteers with NOVAdance and Special Olympics.
Gina Ngo CLAS ‘24, a Presidential Scholar, is a Biology major and Peace and Justice minor from Haverford, Pa., who plans a research career as a physician-scientist in neuro-oncology. In her first year at Villanova, Ngo began working with Dr. Anil Bamezai through Villanova’s Center for Research and Fellowships Match Research Program. Ngo was subsequently awarded a VURF grant to study Ly-6A, a potential immune checkpoint that can impact the treatment of tumors, through independent research with Dr. Bamezai. Since 2021, she has been a key member of the student editorial board of Veritas: Villanova Research Journal. In 2022, Ngo completed a summer research internship at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute Center for Stem Cell and Translational Immunotherapy, where she identified an immunosuppressive mechanism in glioblastoma and devised a method for targeting it while considering the mode of delivery to glioblastoma patients. This summer, Ngo will work in a radiation oncology research group at the University of Pennsylvania and intends to complete an Honors Senior Thesis on her immunology research. In addition to her research efforts, Ngo works to improve lives through her leadership and advocacy in Villanova Refugee Empowerment, Philadelphia’s Nationalities Service Center, Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week and the Honors Program.
The Goldwater Foundation awards $7,500 scholarships to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics or engineering. It is widely considered the preeminent award for undergraduates preparing for research careers in STEM. Recent Villanova Goldwater honorees went on to become Knight-Hennessy Scholars, Marshall Scholars, NSF Graduate Research Fellows and Fulbright Student Grant recipients.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who served for 30 years in the United States Senate. The program is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. For more information, visit the Goldwater Scholarship website.