UNT TAMS students named 2024 Goldwater Scholars for research in AI and chemistry

Monday, June 17, 2024

Sarang Goel and Ramya Motati

UNT Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, Sarang Goel and Ramya Motati named 2024 Goldwater Scholars

DENTON (UNT), Texas — Sarang Goel and Ramya Motati, two students from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) at the University of North Texas, have been named as 2024 Goldwater Scholars in recognition of their work in the fields of artificial intelligence and solvation chemistry.

The Goldwater Scholarship is a nationally competitive award for students pursuing careers in STEM fields. Including this year’s winners, UNT has had a total number of 73 Goldwater Scholars over the years.

Sarang Goel

Sarang Goel has been using AI to detect freezing of gait in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Patients wear a device that monitors any changes in movement, which can assist patients suffering from freezing of gait through vibrating specific parts of the body.

Sarang, a senior at TAMS, got the idea while attending the MIT Research Summer Institute program, where he was only one of 63 students across the country to get an invitation.

“The principal investigator of the lab was discussing different ideas and different problems that they had encountered,” Sarang said. “It was a project that I took over as part of that lab.”

UNT TAMS students, Sarang Goel and Ramya MotatiAdditionally, Sarang has independently developed low cost, AI-based eyeglasses for patients with visual impairments. Using a combination of custom hardware and AI, the eyeglasses are designed to lead users from one location to another while avoiding any obstacles in their path.

“I have a visually impaired family friend, and I’ve watched her struggle with visual impairment over the last five years,” Sarang said. “I wanted to help, so I decided to create a device that could assist her with navigation.”

Guiding Sarang along his scientific journey is his mentor Saraju Mohanty, professor of computer science and engineering. They met when Sarang was attending the TAMS Early Summer Research program, where he was assigned to Mohanty’s Smart Electronics Systems Lab.

“Sarang is the best undergraduate student whom I have mentored in last 20 years,” Mohanty said. “Sarang uses his ingenuity and determination to develop creative solutions to challenges, always outperforming my expectations.”

Once he graduates from TAMS, Sarang plans to attend Stanford University to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science. With his status as a Goldwater Scholar, he’s confident he can succeed.

“It’s really inspiring to see how the work I did was recognized and it definitely motivates me to keep going forward with research in the future,” Sarang said.

Ramya Motati

Ramya Motati, a TAMS senior, aims to improve the dosage precision of drugs containing pseudocyclic compounds, such as amino acids, using a solvation parameter she developed.

Ramya has received the guidance of chemistry professor William Acree, Jr. as well as Amir Jafari, associate professor of biomedical engineering.

“Ramya is one of the top undergraduate students that I have mentored in my 42 years of academia,” Acree said. “She is a very intelligent and creative individual who has the ability to work both independently and as a member of a research team.”

Ramya’s ultimate goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering so she can study in the field of rehabilitative orthopedic technology. Inspired by her time in track and field, she hopes to improve the quality of care for others like her.

“I actually tore my ACL while in athletics, and I began to be exposed to the world of biotech when I personally was going through rehabilitation,” Ramya said. “While I was looking at these innovations, I began to be inspired and lean toward doing research in biotech.”

Ramya has been published as a co-author in 10 research publications. One such article was even published in Liquids, an international journal focusing on all aspects of liquid material research.

Equipped with the tools that TAMS gave her, as well as the honors that being a Goldwater Scholar brings, Ramya is hopeful for the journey ahead.

“I’m really honored to have this award,” Ramya said. “It means a lot because it not only represents the work that I have done, but also my mentors who have helped me come all this way.”

At UNT, Goldwater nominees emerge from a competitive process overseen by James Duban, associate dean for research and national scholarships in TAMS and the Honors College, and a multidisciplinary committee of faculty members. These members are: Tom Cundari, professor of chemistry; Jannon Fuchs, professor of biology; Chris Littler, professor of physics and Thomas Scharf, professor of materials science and engineering.

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From UNT News – TAMS