Goldwater Scholarship rewards outstanding undergraduate researcher

Priya Pal

A Florida State University student majoring in biochemistry, chemistry and biomedical mathematics is the recipient of a renowned Goldwater Scholarship, awarded each year to some of the nation’s most talented college undergraduates.

Priya Pal, a junior from Tallahassee, learned last week that she has been selected for the highly competitive scholarship—the nation’s premier award for undergraduate achievement in math, science and engineering.

The award, given to 300 students nationwide each year, covers expenses including tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

"This recognition by the Goldwater Foundation is a wonderful testament to the rich research environment Florida State provides its undergraduate students and the superb mentorship they receive from our faculty," said Jamie Purcell, director of FSU’s Office of National Fellowships (, which works to match top students with nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships. "This is just further proof that FSU students are among the very best undergraduates in the nation."

A graduate of Tallahassee’s Rickards High School, Pal already has compiled an impressive academic resume during her time at FSU. She has received a Howard Hughes Fellowship in Mathematical and Computational Biology as well as several chemistry scholarships, and has been working on a research project with Brian G. Miller, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FSU who studies protein structure, function and evolution.

"Priya has consistently challenged herself with rigorous coursework, heavy courseloads and ambitious research in a variety of laboratories on campus," Purcell said. She’s innately curious, determined and motivated. She’s the perfect Goldwater Scholar."

Two additional FSU students received honorable mentions from the Goldwater Foundation, which awards the Goldwater Scholarships. They are:

  • John Bowers, a junior majoring in computer science, mathematics and philosophy. He has worked for the Security and Assurance in Information Technology (SAIT) group and the Center for Applied Vision and Imaging Sciences (CAVIS) at FSU. Bowers’ current research involves applying the tools he has written to perform experiments on the shapes of certain structures of the human brain. He also is working on a NASA-funded project that involves building a three-dimensional scanner out of consumer electronics to scan models of real-world objects.
  • Keenan Pepper, a sophomore majoring in physics and computer science. He has conducted research under physics Professor Sam Tabor at FSU’s John D. Fox Superconducting Accelerator Laboratory and has conducted experiments at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University.

For more information on the Goldwater Scholarship, visit