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Peter Abraham, a junior at Auburn University, is a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, an honor bestowed on just 496 students nationwide. The scholarship is widely regarded as the most prestigious award in the United States for undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Abraham, from Auburn, is majoring in chemical engineering and computer science at Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and was chosen in April from a field of nearly 5,000 students.
Currently, Abraham is involved in two areas of research: developing more effective cancer drug screening models and understanding the link between colorectal cancer and obesity.
According to Abraham, when developing cancer drugs, companies start by finding a suitable drug, testing it in mice and other models, and then testing it in humans as well. Yet, most cancer drugs that enter human clinical trials are not approved for use, resulting in very significant drug development costs. His research goal is to develop a better model to test and screen the safety and efficacy of drugs before clinical trials.
Obesity is a known risk factor for colorectal cancer, but scientists don’t know why.
According to Abraham, part of the reason is that colorectal cancer tumors are different between people at the DNA/RNA level. Many scientists have proposed ways to group colorectal tumors into “subtypes.”
Abraham looks at an important set of subtypes and sees if obesity affects the subtypes differently.
“This way we can understand how obesity and colorectal cancer are linked and when a patient has colorectal cancer we can check their obesity status and hopefully tailor their cancer treatment to their specific needs,” said Abraham.
Abraham works with Elizabeth Lipke, Mary and John H. Sanders Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, and Michael W. Greene, Associate Professor of Nutrition in the College of Human Sciences.
“It’s a huge honor, and I hope to make connections through the Goldwater Network and solidify my future research efforts,” Abraham said.
Abraham recently won the AIChE Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence Award, an award given to a single sophomore within Auburn’s AIChE chapter based on academic achievement, and he placed first in Technical Presentations at the AIChE Southern Regional Conference. AlChE is the world’s leading organization for chemical engineering professionals.
When not in the lab, Abraham spends his time as an AIChE officer, as the captain of the AIChE jeopardy team, and as a member of the AIChE ChemE Car team.
“Peter is to be commended for this outstanding honor and for the rigor and significance of his research,” said Tiffany Sippial, Director of the Honors College. “His findings have the potential to revolutionize current models of drug testing and screening and shed important new light on our understanding of the link between colorectal cancer and obesity. His work stands at the frontier of innovation, and he is extremely deserving of this most distinguished undergraduate award for STEM students. I couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments.
“I am immensely proud of Peter’s accomplishments and happy to see the Barry Goldwater Foundation recognize his potential for greatness in his field,” added Alex Sauer, Scholarships and Research Coordinator at Honors College and the Office. Auburn’s National Prestigious Scholarships. . “I have no doubt that Peter will continue to thrive as a researcher, and I’m thrilled to see the incredible impact his work will have on the world.”
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program was established to provide scholarships to outstanding students who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses up to a maximum of $7,500 per year for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and housing. When awarding scholarships, the trustee foundation takes into account the candidate’s field of study and career goals, as well as the extent to which that individual has the commitment and potential to make a significant contribution to the field of science or engineering.
Auburn University’s National Prestigious Scholarships Office, located at Honors College, works closely with students to help them identify and seek prestigious scholarships and other national and international awards through sessions information and individual support during the application process.