2013 Goldwater Scholar Sai Gourisankar Is Well on His Way to Becoming a Globally Engaged Scientist

Is there a scholarship or recognition that Sai Gourisankar did not receive while he was an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin? It is hard to think of one. Sai graduated in 2015 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering as a Goldwater Scholar, Churchill Scholar, Astronaut Foundation Scholar, Dedman Distinguished Scholar, and Virginia and Ernest, Jr. Scholar in Engineering. Today, Gourisankar is a Rhodes Scholar in Oxford, UK, pursuing graduate work in history and public policy. His goal is to take an interdisciplinary skill set into his pursuit of a doctoral degree in chemical engineering at Stanford. His research at Stanford on novel nano- and soft-materials technology will be supported by an NSF Graduate Fellowship. He will matriculate to Stanford in 2017.

Sai began first engaged in research at the University of Texas as a freshman in the chemical engineering laboratory of Dr. Keith Johnston, later co-advised by Professor Tom Truskett as well. Their work involved the development of nanotechology for tumor diagnosis and therapy. “The materials we studied,” Sai said, “could help provide both earlier detection of and more effective treatment of cancer.” The project required Gourisankar to also work with physicists, biomedical engineers and theoreticians. “It was exciting to see the interdisciplinary nature of today’s research,” Gourisankar said.

“The Goldwater encouraged me to keep pursuing undergraduate research at the University of Texas, which, in turn, motivated my interest in graduate school. Along the way I started believing that our problems need both excellent science and smart policy. Even to identify and define those problems – I chose one in materials technology – we must understand issues outside the laboratory and across the world. So my goal is a career as a globally engaged scientist, contributing good research, innovating effective technology, and shaping intelligent policy.”