Two Honors students selected for prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

Aditya Kotha and Andy Shar,  headshotsBy William Lineberry
Honors College, University College

Two Virginia Commonwealth University Honors College students have been selected as recipients of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious national honor for undergraduate STEM students who plan to pursue research careers.

Aditya Kotha (left) and Andy Shar (right) are juniors in the VCU Honors College and the College of Humanities and Sciences. Kotha is majoring in biology and psychology, and Shar is majoring in biology.

“I’m thrilled to congratulate Kotha and Shar on this prestigious recognition. With their selection as 2024 Goldwater Scholars, these Rams continue to demonstrate the strength of VCU’s undergraduate research program,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D., VCU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “These awards reinforce VCU’s emerging national prominence for both STEM education and undergraduate research.”

Established by Congress in 1986 and conferring scholarships since 1989, the Goldwater program encourages students to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. Kotha and Shar were among 438 scholars selected this year from 1,353 science, engineering and mathematics students who were nominated by 446 academic institutions. Since 2006, 18 VCU undergraduate researchers have been named Goldwater Scholars.

“Both Shar and Kotha came to VCU intent on finding research opportunities, and they worked hard to contribute in meaningful ways to their respective research groups,” said Jeff Wing, director of VCU’s National Scholarship Office, which is based in the Honors College and serves as VCU’s campus representative for the Goldwater program. “The Goldwater Scholarship recognition and access to its alumni network will continue to propel each of them forward as they pursue their graduate studies and look to eventually establish their own research groups.”

Since high school, Kotha has been working with John Ryan, Ph.D., a biology professor and associate vice provost for research development, in the Ryan Immunology Lab. His research focuses on discovering alternative and affordable treatments for inflammatory immune disorders, such as asthma.

Shar began working with Daeha Joung, Ph.D., in the Joung Bioelectronics Lab in the VCU Department of Physics during his first year as an undergraduate. He has worked on several projects involving materials science, cytology and biomedical engineering, taking on more responsibility with each new project.

Both Kotha and Shar have presented their work on multiple occasions and had their research included in peer-reviewed publications. Each of them plans to pursue advanced-degree programs as they complete their undergraduate studies in the year ahead.  

VCU’s National Scholarship Office assists students and alumni with applying for prestigious national and international scholarships. To learn more about opportunities, visit the NSO website and schedule an appointment.