Three Penn Engineers Named Goldwater Scholars

Joshua Chen, Shriya Karam and Laila Barakat Norford
Joshua Chen, Shriya Karam and Laila Barakat Norford

Of the five University of Pennsylvania undergraduates who have received 2022 Goldwater Scholarships, three proudly represent the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Foundation awards scholarships of up to $7,500 to each scholar selected. Each year Penn’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) nominates four students for the award and provides advising.

Penn Engineering’s 2022 Goldwater Scholars are Shriya Karam from Nolensville, Tennessee; Joshua Chen from Palo Alto, California and Laila Barakat Norford from Wayne, Pennsylvania.

Joshua Chen is majoring in materials science and engineering in Penn Engineering, as well as entrepreneurship and innovation in the Wharton School. He is conducting research in the physics department under Marija Drndic in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences and with the Juejun Hu Research Group Photonic Materials Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chen received the 2019 Bosch Scholarship Award and Littlejohn Undergraduate Research Award. At Penn, he is a Rachleff Engineering Research Scholar, the founder of the new MatSci Makerspace, and was the software head at Penn Aerial Robotics. Outside Penn, he was a founding board member and the head of growth for Wave Learning Festival, a nonprofit started during the pandemic to offer free online courses taught by college students to middle and high schoolers. He is a co-founder of Repairylene, a startup in the prototype phase that employs electroplating technology as a metal-repair solution. Chen plans to pursue a Ph.D. in material science and engineering with the goal of developing scientific research innovations that will change technology.

Shriya Karam is majoring in systems engineering with a concentration in decision science and a minor in mathematics. She has been an advocate for integrating equity and inclusion in her academic work in transportation and engineering and in advocacy organizations outside the classroom. At Penn, she is a research assistant at the Center for Safe Mobility where she is developing an equity-focused aviation accessibility model. She also is president of the Underrepresented Student Advisory Board in Engineering and is a board member for Penn’s Society of Women Engineers. Karam plans to pursue a Ph.D. in civil engineering.

Laila Barakat Norford is majoring in bioengineering with minors in computer science and bioethics. As a Rachleff Scholar, Norford has been engaged in systems biology research since her first year. Her current research uses machine learning to predict cell types in intestinal organoids from live-cell images, enabling the mechanisms of development and disease to be characterized in detail. At Penn, she is an Orientation Peer Advisor, a volunteer with Advancing Women in Engineering and the Penn Society of Women Engineers, and a teaching assistant for introductory computer science. She is secretary of the Penn Band, plays the clarinet, and is a member of the Band’s Fanfare Honor Society for service and leadership. Norford registers voters with Penn Leads the Vote and canvasses for state government candidates. She is also involved in Penn’s LGBTQ+ community as a member of PennAces. Norford plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computational biology, aspiring to build computational tools to address understudied diseases and health disparities.

Read about Penn’s other Goldwater Scholars at Penn Today.