Biology undergraduate wins prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Joey Wong
Joey Wong (photo by T. Stephens)

Joey Wong, a junior at UC Santa Cruz majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology with a minor in linguistics, has been named a 2019 Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

The Goldwater Scholarship is a prestigious national competition for undergraduates in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 per year for sophomores and juniors from across the country to cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, and other expenses.

The foundation awarded 496 scholarships this year, selecting the scholars on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,223 students nominated by representatives of colleges and universities nationwide.

Wong has been doing research on Alzheimer's disease in the laboratory of Jeremy Lee, professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at UC Santa Cruz. She also did a summer research internship in Susan Ackerman's lab at UC San Diego through a Howard Hughes Medical Institute program, working to identify a gene involved in ataxia and cerebellar degeneration in mice, and will be continuing that work this summer.

As a freshman, Wong founded the UCSC chapter of Volunteers Around the World, a medical outreach organization, and traveled to several countries, including Peru, Cambodia, and Vietnam, to work in mobile health clinics. Last year, she was selected for the Chancellor's Undergraduate Internship Program and served as the student production assistant coordinator at the Cultural Arts and Diversity Resource Center.

Wong plans to pursue a M.D./Ph.D. in molecular biology and neurobiology in preparation for a career as a physician-scientist.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater. The scholarship program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.