Junior Sahitya Allam Wins Goldwater

Sahitya Allam (right) pictured at a poster research presenation.

Sahitya Allam, an NJIT junior, has been awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation's most prestigious and coveted scholarships.  

The $7,500 scholarship is given annually to outstanding sophomores or juniors who study math, science or engineering. The intent of the scholarship is to encourage bright undergraduate students to pursue careers in research.

Allam is an adept researcher who majors in biomedical engineering at the Albert Dorman Honors College, where she’s part of the college’s accelerated medical program. Her research projects, which have won wide acclaim, include studying a physiological cause of attention-deficit hyperactivity as well as designing a method by which to regenerate nerve cells. The scholarship goes toward expenses such as tuition and fees so that recipients can focus on research. 

“It’s an honor to be recognized for my hard work and achievements in research through the Goldwater Scholarship,” said Allam, who has a 4.0 GPA and will graduate in three years. “One of my main career goals is to aid the development of novel therapies for neurological diseases through interdisciplinary research while working one day as both a physician and a scientist. To be selected for this scholarship means that others have identified my potential to make a significant contribution to the field of neurobiology, which is truly humbling.”

Allam started doing research when she was a first-semester freshman. She contacted Biomedical Engineering Professor Richard Foulds, a prominent NJIT researcher, and asked if she could join his lab. Impressed with her credentials -- she graduated with honors from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, one of the top ranked STEM schools in the nation -- Foulds agreed.

It didn’t take her long to find her groove. Later that same year, she won a prize at the New Jersey Entrepreneurial Network showcase for researching the effect of inner-ear stimulation on the fine motor skills of people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). She also was awarded an NJIT Undergraduate Research and Innovation grant for her research, a non-pharmaceutical way of treating ADHD, a disorder linked to problems with both academic learning and fine motor control. She later also won a TechQuest competition for her research on nerve regeneration.  Her research was conducted under the direction of Professors Michael Jaffe and Bryan Pfister, both of whom, along with Foulds, nominated her for the Goldwater.

Dylan Renaud, a sophomore in the Honors College with a double major in applied physics and mathematics, won an honorable mention in the Goldwater competition.

Renaud, too, is a talented researcher. The summer before he arrived at NJIT, he worked with Professors Gordon Thomas and Reginald Farrow in their Biophysics Lab, fabricating nano-scale size fuel cells. He also worked with Professor Eon Soon Lee to investigate hydrogen fuel cells. And this past summer he did research at Okinawa Graduate University, where he used optics to analyze atomically thin materials.

By Robert Florida