Ӱҵ junior Sancia Sehdev wins Goldwater Scholarship

The biology major and member of the Gabelli Presidential Scholars program is selected for the nation's premier undergraduate award in the sciences

Boston College biology major Sancia Sehdev ’25, a member of the Gabelli Presidential Scholars program who plans to pursue research in environmental health and epidemiology as a foundation for climate advocacy, has received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier undergraduate award in the sciences.

Sehdev, a native of New Delhi who is minoring in medical humanities—an interdisciplinary, humanistic, and cultural study of illness, health, health care, and anatomy—is on the pre-med track. Her career goal is to practice medicine as a neurologist or psychiatrist, conduct environmental health research focused on the brain, and serve as an active climate advocate.

“I am very honored to be named a Goldwater Scholar, and I am grateful for the support and confidence that the Goldwater Foundation has expressed in my future as a scientist,” said Sehdev.

The idea of pursuing a M.D./Ph.D. in environmental health excites me. I hope to attend an institution that can provide me with the same abundant resources and support as Ӱҵ has.
Sancia Sehdev

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years as a United States senator from Arizona. Goldwater Scholarships—grants for up to two years of graduate studies—are awarded based on academic merit to the country’s most promising sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

Sehdev is the 21st Goldwater recipient from Ӱҵ, and the first since Henry Dieckhaus ’20 in 2019.

“The idea of pursuing a M.D./Ph.D. [doctorate of medicine and philosophy] in environmental health excites me,” said Sehdev, whose initial interest in attending Ӱҵ was driven by its excellent academic program in biology, its opportunities in environmental and public health, and emphasis on medical advancement and health care in Greater Boston. “I hope to attend an institution that can provide me with the same abundant resources and support as Ӱҵ has.

“While I currently plan to focus my doctoral research on the impact of climate change on brain health and its potential role in the progression of Parkinson’s disease, the specific focus may evolve as the field grows. Post-graduation, I intend to undertake a neurology or psychiatry residency, and engage in environmental health research and advocacy.”

“I congratulate Sancia Sehdev on her selection as a Goldwater Scholarship recipient,” said Professor of Biology Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., director of the Program for Global Public Health and the Common Good. “She has been actively engaged in research since her first summer at Ӱҵ, when she examined the impacts on human health of common lands management in rural India, under the mentorship of [Ӱҵ School of Social Work Dean] Gautam Yadama. Since then, she has worked on the creation of novel amino acids in Ӱҵ’s Laboratory of Synthetic Biology and Biochemistry with the guidance of Chemistry Professor Abhishek Chatterjee, and she has investigated the impact of air pollution on brain structure at the Laboratory for Research in Neuroimaging Laboratory in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“Currently, Sancia is working under my mentorship on a project to identify chemicals in the environment known or suspected to cause disruptions in brain development in young children. The Goldwater Scholarship will provide Sancia with an extremely important assist on her life’s journey.”

“Sancia’s curiosity, genuine care for research, perseverance, ability to work independently, and collaborative spirit make her an exceptional individual,” said Bogdan Draganski, M.D., director of the Laboratory for Research in Neuroimaging, who served as her research advisor during her stint there last summer studying air pollution’s impact on human brain tissue properties. “I believe her dedication to pursuing medicine, coupled with her strong focus on research, will undoubtedly lead to a successful and impactful career.”

As of now, Sehdev plans to take a gap year following graduation to continue working on her research in brain structure and environmental health with Landrigan and Dr. Draganski.