Biomed undergrad Gacasan named Goldwater Scholar

Gacasan, EricaErica Gacasan, undergraduate student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has been named a Goldwater Scholar by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,206 mathematics, science and engineering students who are nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. As a Goldwater Scholar, Gacasan will receive a one-year scholarship of $7,500 to apply towards the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board.

Gacasan is advised by Associate Professor Melissa Grunlan. Working in Grunlan’s research group for two years since her freshman year, Gacasan is developing tissue-engineering therapies to treat deteriorating joints such as the knee so that individuals do not require a total joint replacement. Specifically, her research is focused on producing synthetic hydrogel scaffolds that direct regeneration of osteochondral tissues.

In addition to being named a Goldwater Scholar, Gacasan has been selected as one of only 16 students in the nation to attend the 2015 Biomedical Engineering Summer Internship Program at the National Institutes of Health where she will participate in cutting-edge biomedical research projects under the mentorship of world-class scientists for a 10-week period. Gacasan also recently represented Texas A&M at Texas Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Austin, during which she presented her research to Texas legislators as part of a select group of undergraduate students taking part in the event.

“Not only is she very strong academically, Erica seizes opportunities for growth and training in research; she never backs away from a challenge,” Grunlan said.

Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 86 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Awards, 123 Churchill Scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships such as National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.

Established 1986, the Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency, and the foundation’s scholarship program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater is designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has bestowed 7,428 scholarships worth approximately 48 million dollars.