U of A Student Named as 2018 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar

Olga Brazhkina
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Olga Brazhkina

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Olga Brazhkina, a junior at the University of Arkansas, has been named a 2018 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. The Goldwater Scholarship is the nation’s most prestigious award for undergraduate students who plan doctoral studies and research careers in the fields of science, mathematics or engineering.

Brazhkina, from Fayetteville, is an honors biomedical engineering major in the College of Engineering. She is an Honors College Fellow, an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar and a National Merit Finalist.

“The University of Arkansas is delighted that Olga Brazhkina has been selected as a Goldwater Scholar,” said Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz. “She is an exceptional and engaged student, who has taken advantage of everything the College of Engineering and the Honors College have to offer. She will make a difference in biomedical engineering research, and in doing so, she will make a real difference in the quality of life for so many. That she has been able to engage in several undergraduate research projects speaks well of the faculty. Student and faculty research partnerships are a critical part of the university’s mission. They are career shaping for our next generation of difference makers.” 

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the United States senator. About 200 scholarships are awarded each year to college sophomores and juniors nationwide. The purpose of the program is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. Universities and colleges may nominate up to four students each year.

“I am honored to be selected as a Goldwater Scholar,” said Brazhkina. “With this prestigious award, I will continue to seek new educational opportunities and intensify my research during my remaining time at the University of Arkansas. This award will help me reach my eventual goals of creating advanced methods to solve some of the world’s most complicated medical problems while motivating others, especially women, to engage in similar work. I was introduced to research as a freshman through the Honors Research Experience offered at the College of Engineering, and have enjoyed my experience and interactions with other researchers ever since.”

Brazhkina has performed her research at the Cardiovascular Biomechanics Laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, directed by Morten Jensen, associate professor and Arkansas Research Alliance Scholar.

“The College of Engineering is extremely proud of Olga, and her research mentor, Dr. Jensen,” said John English, dean of the College of Engineering. “She is an excellent representative of our college and of the Freshman Engineering Program’s Honors Research Experience. Starting students on a research path early is key to their full engagement in our program and their successes both academic and professionally outside it. I look forward to seeing the difference Olga will make in the field of biomedical engineering.”

“Dr. Jensen has guided me throughout many challenging yet rewarding endeavors for the past three years,” said Brazhkina. “And I am extremely grateful for his continued invaluable instruction and support. Undergraduate research sets students apart at this university and prepares us for our future careers, and I am very thankful to be part of this community in Fayetteville.”

Brazhkina has presented her work at the Annual Meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society and at the annual Freshman Engineering Program Honors Research Symposium, and she has received an Honors College Research Grant to support her work. Upon completing a doctorate in biomedical engineering, she plans to pursue a career as a professor, researching cardiovascular biomechanics and device design. Outside of research, she is an active member of Phi Sigma Rho engineering society, Tau Beta Pi engineering honors society, Engineering World Health, and the Biomedical Engineering Student Advisory Board.

“Olga is a high-achieving and research-oriented student, and I have no doubt that she will reach great success based on her impressive track-record, enthusiasm, and drive,” Jensen said. "She has already demonstrated an understanding of the engineering design process to create innovative solutions when we bring engineers and clinicians together to address serious cardiovascular conditions. It has been a privilege to serve as Olga’s research mentor, and I look forward to seeing her pursue the doctorate in biomedical engineering, complete a postdoctoral position, and finally become a professor and principal investigator of her own research lab."

Brazhkina is the 53rd University of Arkansas student to be named a Goldwater Scholar. University of Arkansas students have been named Goldwater Scholars in 22 of the last 23 years. The overall number of Goldwater recipients places the University of Arkansas in the top 20 public universities in the country.

Previous Goldwater Scholars have gone on to become Rhodes, Marshall, Gates Cambridge, Fulbright and Udall Scholars, as well as National Science Graduate Research Fellows. They have pursued doctoral work at prestigious programs including the University of Arkansas, University of Virginia, University of Michigan, University of California-Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Cambridge University, Columbia University, Cornell University, MIT, St. Andrews (Scotland), Oxford, Princeton University, Stanford University, and Washington University.

U of A students interested in applying for competitive scholarships like the Goldwater Scholarship should contact the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at awards@uark.edu.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Suzanne McCray, Director
Office of Nationally Competitive Awards
479-575-4883, smccray@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations
479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu

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