Goldwater Scholar Recipients: Two Students from Johns Hopkins University

Kyra Bowden (left) and Grace Luettgen

Johns Hopkins juniors Kyra Bowden and Grace Luettgen were recently granted the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

The program, named after the late Senator and Major General Barry Goldwater, helps college sophomores and juniors pursue research careers in engineering, mathematics, and natural sciences. Bowden and Luettgen are acknowledged for their contributions to biomedical engineering and biophysics, respectively.

This year, the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation will assist 438 new scholars chosen from an applicant pool of over 5,000. Each scholar will get up to $7,500 per school year until two years have elapsed or the student has graduated. Schools can suggest up to four applicants per year.

Kyra Bowden

Biomedical Engineering

Bowden hopes to employ machine learning and image analysis to investigate disease and injuries and improve results for orthopedic patients. Since spring 2022, Bowden has collaborated with Seth Blackshaw and Jonathan Ling to analyze differential exon inclusion in proteins using ASCOT, a database of alternative splicing events drawn from hundreds of thousands of mouse and human RNA sequencing datasets. He also developed Python scripts to use the AlphaFold v2.0 AI platform to model how ASCOT-identified splicing events impact protein structure and function. Bowden’s work has been published in prestigious journals such as Nature Communications and Nature Medicine, and he is the first author of a poster at the Society for Neuroscience. She also got a grant from the Leong Summer Research Fund and will spend the summer in Switzerland as part of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Excellence Research Internship Programme. Outside of the lab, Bowden has been a resident adviser since her sophomore year and is an official in the Johns Hopkins Biomedical Engineering Society and SHARE (Supporting Hospitals Abroad with Resources and Equipment). She helps with Thread, the JHU Tutorial Project, and a local health care clinic.

Grace Luettgen

Physics, Biophysics

Luettgen’s goal is to create signaling proteins that regulate interactions between the immune system and sick cells. Luettgen has been working in Brian Camley’s lab since the spring of her freshman year. Her initial project focused on constructing a computer model to understand probable mechanisms of cell cluster migration, which is critical for tissue growth, wound healing, and cancer metastasis. She is presently focusing on chronic lymphocytic leukemia, utilizing computational modeling to better understand how malignant lymphocytes enter lymph nodes by detecting changes in chemical cues. She was the first author of a recent presentation on this leukemia research at the American Physical Society, and she received an ASPIRE grant to support it. Luettgen has also worked with Aleksandrina Goeva and Miri Adler at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard on gene control of cerebellar neurons and communication between molecular layer interneurons (MLIs) and Purkinje layer interneurons (PLIs). Outside of the lab and academic work for her two majors, Luettgen is an organizer for the JHU Tutorial Project and a volunteer with SHARE and Baltimore First, where she helps older Baltimore residents with technology.



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