ATLANTA–A second-year biology major in the Honors College at Georgia State University has been named a 2021 Goldwater Scholar.
Chetna Batra is a Georgia State Presidential Scholar and a research assistant in the Nazarko Lab. The lab, headed by Associate Professor of Biology Taras Nazarko, researches how certain cells store and break down fat droplets, a process known as lipophagy. A deeper understanding of lipophagy could help scientists and health care providers discover new ways to prevent and treat certain diseases, including the build-up of cholesterol plaque in artery walls that obstructs blood flow.
“The project I am focused on is researching the degradation of proteins in a single-celled yeast species under different conditions, which can serve as a model organism for genetic study and protein production,” Batra said. “Analyzing the role of proteins in lipophagy is important, since it is a crucial cellular process that affects metabolism, homeostasis and pathological conditions.”
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation and the U.S. Department of National Defense Education Programs named Batra as one of 410 Goldwater Scholars selected from among 5,000 sophomores and juniors who applied from across the country. Goldwater Scholars are undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields who receive up to $7,500 each year for two years.
“Chetna joins the ranks of five other extraordinary Georgia State students who have been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship,” said Jacob English, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships in the Honors College. “The scholarship recognizes Chetna’s commitment to science and research. I am excited to watch Chetna develop her skill-set further over the next two years as she delves deeper into her research as a Goldwater Scholar.”
Batra said the scholarship has motivated her to keep exploring the intersection between microbiology and public health and will help her attain her academic and career goals. She’s also looking forward to networking with past and present Goldwater Scholars.
“Being selected for the Goldwater Scholarship has instilled confidence within me to continue researching lipid-related diseases at the cellular level,” she said. “My aspiration to pursue a career related to medicine and research now seems within reach.”