Goldwater scholarship winner’s goal: become physician-scientist

Nikhil Bommakanti

Nikhil Bommakanti studies how to reduce fluid buildup in the lungs from congestive heart failure. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

An aspiring physician-scientist who is already an experienced researcher was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, a national award for academic achievement by students in mathematics, science and engineering for academic achievement.

Nikhil Bommakanti, a junior in bioengineering, will use the  $7,500 scholarship to help finish his undergraduate studies.

Bommakanti, a student in the Honors College, conducted research with Randal Dull, professor and vice head for research in the department of anesthesiology, on how the barrier separating the blood vessels and the lungs responds to increased vascular pressure. The goal is to reduce the buildup of fluid in the lungs from congestive heart failure.

“As researchers in the biomedical sciences, we are uniquely positioned to find solutions that will ultimately benefit patients,” said Bommakanti, who also works with bioengineering faculty.

He plans to earn an M.D./Ph.D. with the goal of heading a biomedical engineering laboratory.

Bommakanti is director-elect of the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium, an annual undergraduate-led convention for all academic disciplines.

He is vice president of the Bioengineering Organizational Alliance, an umbrella organization of national bioengineering societies on campus.

A 2010 graduate of Naperville North High School, Bommakanti is a member of the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, the national biomedical engineering honor society Alpha Eta Mu Beta, and Phi Kappa Phi.

This year’s 271 winners were selected from more than 1,100 qualified nominees for the Goldwater scholarship, named for the late Republican senator from Arizona.