Austin College announces that Anika Katherine Chand ’23 and Sydney Hope Versen ’23 have been named Goldwater Scholars and received prestigious, competitive scholarships to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent national award, based on academic merit, presented to sophomores and juniors planning to pursue research careers.
The Goldwater Scholarship and foundation were established by Congress in 1986 to honor the work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and leader, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.
Anika Chand ’23, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Chand from Southlake, Texas, is majoring in biochemistry and has a minor in religious studies. During the 2021-2022 academic year, Chand conducted research with Dr. John Richardson, Austin College professor of biochemistry.
In the summer of 2021, she participated in the National Science Foundation-Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at Texas A&M University. From that experience, she wrote a thesis summarizing her work and presented an abstract to other researchers at an NSF-REU Symposium.
This summer, she is in Camden, Massachusetts participating in the Harvard-Amgen Scholars residential summer research program for undergraduates in biotechnology.
In addition to her coursework and research, Chand is a lab assistant for chemistry, a member of the President’s Committee for Inclusion and Diversity, a peer tutor at the Academic Skills Center, and a member of both Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and ACtivators youth ministry. Chand says she would like to complete a Ph.D. in biochemistry or chemical biology and continue a career in research.
Sydney Versen ’23, daughter of Ryan and Victoria Versen of Sugarland, Texas, is majoring in biology and has minors in chemistry and philosophy. Her undergraduate research experience includes designing a project to identify a developmentally important gene related to further work in predicting the cause of cardiovascular and neurological disorders.
Versen, in addition to her coursework and research, has served as a lab assistant for Cell Biology and a First-Year Seminar Leader. She is a member of several academic honor societies including Alpha Chi, Sigma Xi, Beta Beta Beta, and Alpha Psi. She is also the founder of CHAMPS (Cultivating, Helpful, Aware, and Mindful People of Service), a campus organization working to spread disability awareness around Austin College and the surrounding community.
Versen plans to complete a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology and continue a research career in biomedical science at a biotechnology company.
Dr. Kelli Carroll, assistant professor of biology at Austin College, served as campus representative to the Goldwater Board for the 2022 applicants. In less than five years, three outstanding students have been named Goldwater Scholars as Chand and Versen join AnnaBeth Thomas from the Class of 2019.
The Trustees of the Goldwater Board increased the number of Goldwater Scholarships to 417 college students from across the United States. Chand and Versen were chosen from 1,242 natural science, engineering, and mathematics students who were nominated by 433 academic institutions to compete for the 2022 Goldwater Scholarships. Of the 2022 Goldwater Scholars, 45 are mathematics and computer science majors, 308 are majoring in the natural sciences like the Austin College awardees, and 64 are majoring in engineering. The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986.