Two Villanova University Students Named Goldwater Scholars

Two Villanova students were named Goldwater Scholars

VILLANOVA, Pa.—Two Villanova University students have been named as 2019 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Julia Ferrante (Vestal, N.Y.), a junior Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS); and Alison Mody (Mountain View, Calif.), a junior Biochemistry major in CLAS, were selected as Goldwater Scholars from a group of more than 1,200 nominated students nationwide.

“Villanova students continue to excel in prestigious, national scholarship programs,” said University Provost Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD. “This is the third year in a row that Villanovans have been named Goldwater Scholars, which is a testament to our students’ commitment both in the lab and in the classroom, and the efforts of our faculty and staff to help them achieve their academic goals. Congratulations to Julia and Alison on this impressive honor.”

The Goldwater Foundation awards $7,500 scholarships to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics or engineering. It is widely considered the preeminent award for undergraduates preparing for research careers in STEM. Several recent Villanova Goldwater honorees went on to win the Knight-Hennessy, Marshall, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and Fulbright awards.

The 2019 Villanova University Goldwater Scholars are:

Julia Ferrante is a Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience major with a Chemistry minor whose interest in the science of addiction motivates her to pursue a research career. Ferrante was a Match Research Program grantee in her first year at Villanova, and in her sophomore year, she joined the research group of Dr. Benjamin Sachs. Her work focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying substance abuse, and specifically whether early-life stress increases susceptibility to future stressors. Her interest in pharmacology led her to Duke University in Summer 2018, where she completed a summer research fellowship to study drug treatments for opioid addiction. She has presented at multiple meetings on non-opioid pharmacotherapies for the treatment of opioid dependence. Ferrante leads groups of students to perform science experiments in Philadelphia elementary schools, founded the Villanova chapter of American Women in Science, and is a peer tutor in chemistry, biology, and neuroscience. She also volunteers with Special Olympics and Back On My Feet. Julia intends to pursue a research career focused on neuropharmacology, conducting research on opioids for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Alison Mody is a Biochemistry major with a Mathematics minor whose research career began in high school, when she spent her summers and academic breaks synthesizing novel polymers as pathogen biosensors at Stanford. In the summers of 2015 and 2016, Mody conducted research in two pharmacology labs in industry, and in her first year at Villanova, she joined the research group of Dr. Dennis Wykoff. For three years, she has conducted research on the genetics of yeast metabolism to find drug targets to prevent infections. In Summer 2018, Mody returned to Stanford when she won a HHMI Exceptional Research Opportunities fellowship, where she developed an artificial antibody coupled with an anharmonic oscillator for high-sensitivity detection of bacteria. She will return as a HHMI Capstone Scholar in 2019. Alison intends to pursue a research career as a biochemist who studies diagnostic techniques that can be developed into low-cost solutions for global health crises. Alison is a leader in promoting STEM: she established a science education nonprofit, KIDS, and remains involved in her program, SENSE-ational Science. She is also a chemistry teaching assistant, volunteers with Special Olympics, and sings with Villanova Voices.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, who served for 30 years in the United States Senate. The program is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Visit the Goldwater Scholarship website to learn more.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit