Thursday, May 30, 2024

Four UTSA students win prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

Four UTSA students win prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

MAY 23, 2024 — UTSA students Zenetta Hinojosa (psychology), Dylan Moran (chemistry), Hamza Patwa (physics) and Lance Schwegman (microbiology and immunology) have been named Barry Goldwater Scholars.

This prestigious national scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. The four award winners were among 438 recipients of Goldwater scholarships this year.

For the second time in recent history, UTSA has more Goldwater scholarship recipients than any other college or university in Texas. UTSA was also one of only 20 schools that had four or more scholars.

Hinojosa, a junior and Honors College student, is UTSA’s first Goldwater Scholar in the field of psychology. She is also the university’s first Terry Scholar to win the award. The Terry Scholarship Program helps high-achieving, motivated and community-minded students develop in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service and community by providing up to eight semesters of undergraduate funding for tuition, fees, books, housing, and meal plans.

Hinojosa conducts research alongside UTSA psychology professors Shelby Scott and Alan Meca and has participated in summer research programs at the University of Pennsylvania and at Columbia University. She credits the opportunities offered by UTSA with giving her the confidence she needed to pursue her academic goals.

“UTSA allowed me to begin volunteering in a psychology research lab in my freshman year,” she said. “Additionally, the UTSA directors of the McNair Scholars program, Alvin Curette and Darrell Balderrama have been exceptionally helpful in giving me the confidence to pursue my academic passions in neuroscience and psychology. I would also like to celebrate my mentors in the Honors College and Stacie Garza, who have continuously supported my time here at UTSA.”

Moran is a junior majoring in chemistry who works in chemistry professor Oleg Larionov’s laboratory, the Larionov Group. The research team studies photocatalysts.

This summer, Moran will attend the prestigious Amgen Scholars Program at the University of California at Berkeley, one of the most highly regarded institutions in the world for chemistry.

“UTSA has provided me with the resources and mentorship to succeed in all aspects of my education,” Moran said. “Particularly, the faculty in the UTSA Department of Chemistry and my lab colleagues have challenged me in ways that have allowed me to transform into the person I am today. I genuinely believe that it was the continuous support my mentors have provided to me since I was a freshman that allowed me to accomplish all that I have.”

Patwa, an Honors College student majoring in physics and astronomy, has conducted research in astrophysics with Eric Schlegel, Vaughan Family Endowed Professor in Physics, and is currently conducting theoretical research with assistant professor of mathematics Jose Morales and assistant professor of mathematics Vu Hoang.

The UTSA undergraduate is currently writing his senior thesis with Rafael López-Mobilia, a professor of instruction in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He has also conducted summer research at Howard and Tufts, and this summer will participate in an internship at the University of Vienna in quantum foundations.

“Research is such an amazing field because you get to create knowledge that nobody else knows about,” Patwa said. “I’m so grateful to all the people at UTSA and outside of UTSA that I have worked with for exposing me to such fascinating and diverse areas of physics. I hope to someday be an inspiring figure to other young students aspiring to do research and spread the joy of physics to the world.”

Schwegman, a microbiology and immunology major and Honors College student, was a part of UTSA’s ESTEEMED Program, which helps first-year and second-year trainees develop as scholars and scientists so they can prepare for a Ph.D. program.

Schwegman works in the Forsthuber Lab managed by Thomas Forsthuber, the Jesse H. and Mary Gibbs Jones Endowed Chair in Biotechnology, which investigates the etiology of multiple sclerosis. Schwegman has conducted summer research at the University of Pittsburgh and will be participating in the Amgen Scholars Program at UT Southwestern this summer.

“One of the ways UTSA has been instrumental in helping me start my career in research has been through the support of the amazing faculty there,” Schwegman said. “I am extremely blessed to have had as mentors Dr. Gail Taylor, assistant director of the RISE programs, and Dr. Forsthuber, who have always guided and pushed me to be the best I could. They have taken such a personal stake in my development; I am very grateful for all the time and energy they have invested in me.”


The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to help ensure that the U.S. produces the number of highly qualified professionals needed in critical fields.

“Over the past five years, UTSA has led all Texas universities in Goldwater Scholars, averaging almost three awards per year,” said Andrew Chapman, UTSA director of nationally competitive awards and Goldwater Scholarship campus representative. “Each of our Goldwater Scholars has taken advantage of the many hands-on learning opportunities we offer across the university and in our community. The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards works with STEM students in any department to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship, and it has been fantastic to see students and faculty from more departments become involved in the application process each year.”

Three of UTSA’s Goldwater scholars are Honors College students. Home to more than 2,000 hardworking, achievement-oriented, conscientious students across all majors, the UTSA Honors College offers one of the most unique experiential honors curricula in the nation. Its practical, hands-on approach to learning allows students to chart their own path and achieve their highest potential.

Goldwater Scholars can be nominated by UTSA faculty or self-nominees. To be nominated by UTSA, students must be in their second or third year and U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applications are submitted through the UTSA Office of Nationally Competitive Awards.

Matthew Boerger

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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