Two Wake Forest students named Goldwater Scholars

Wait Chapel and WF ironwork campus beauty photo

Wake Forest junior Elena Singer-Freeman and sophomore Cassandra Hung have been named 2024 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The two are among 438 college students from across the U.S. to receive the award for the 2024-25 academic year.  

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award for STEM students; its recipients go on to become some of this country’s finest scientists. Award winners are selected based on academic merit from a pool of more than 5,000 sophomores and juniors studying natural sciences, mathematics and engineering from 446 institutions.

Elena Singer-Freeman portrait

Elena Singer-Freeman

Elena Singer-Freeman is a biochemistry and molecular biology major from Darien, Connecticut. Her research focuses on the developmental mechanisms of limb regeneration. She plans to pursue an MD-PhD to both help patients and advance the understanding of the underlying mechanisms of their illnesses. 

“I am fascinated by the consequences of biological failure and how small changes at the molecular level cause considerable, complex damage,” Singer-Freeman said. “I love unraveling mysteries, and biology poses some of the greatest of all.”

“It is a deep honor to be named a Goldwater Scholar. The recognition has amplified my confidence in my abilities to continue pursuing research.” Elena Singer-Freeman

Singer-Freeman joined biology professor Joshua Currie’s tissue repair and regeneration lab during her first year at Wake Forest.  “Through hands-on lab work and mentorship, professor Currie has fostered my development as an independent researcher by allowing me to solve problems and plan experiments.”

Singer-Freeman is the recipient of both the Dr. George E. & Lila C. Bradford Scholarship and is the Thomas E. and Ruth Mullen Scholar of the Guy T. Carswell Scholarship.

“Elena encapsulates the best attributes of our undergraduate researchers. She is curious, rigorous, and driven. It has been a privilege to be her research mentor knowing that the impact she is making at Wake Forest is just the beginning of a promising career in biomedical research,” Currie said.

Cassie Hung portrait

Cassi Hung

Cassi Hung is an applied mathematics and statistics major from West Chester, Pennsylvania, and a Stamps Scholar.

Her research work with psychology professor Veronica Cole and statistics professor Sarah Lotspeich helped her to see how quantitative methods can be applied across disciplines. “Interdisciplinary work across math, statistics and technology has become more prevalent in health and biomedical research,” Hung said. “I hope to be part of these growing fields.” 

“While applying for the Goldwater Scholarship, I learned the value of reflecting on what I have done and how that connects to what I will do in the future, The application process was a rewarding experience that improved my confidence in my potential to succeed in these fields.” Cassi Hung

After working in Cole’s lab as a first-year student, Hung spent the summer conducting research with a small group of students at the University of Iowa conducting research in molecular evolution. 

She completed her first statistics class in fall 2023 and is working with professor Lotspeich. This summer Hung will be at the Big Data Summer Institute at the University of Michigan where she will immerse herself in biostatistics and data science methods with applications to cancer research.

After graduating from Wake Forest, Hung plans to pursue a PhD in statistics or applied math.

“Cassi seems to naturally possess the habits of mind required to be a good researcher,” said Cole. “In contexts where most students might get frustrated and give up, she has an impressive ability to identify exactly what information she needs to move forward. I am proud to have her as both a student and a fellow member of the scientific community.”

About the Goldwater Scholarship

Goldwater Scholars have gone on to win an impressive array of prestigious post-graduate fellowships, among which are the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Rhodes Scholarship, Marshall Scholarship, Churchill Scholarship, Hertz Fellowship, DOE Computation Science Graduate Fellowship, and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship.

The on-campus preparation and nomination process for the Goldwater Scholarship and other external scholarships is coordinated through the Wake Forest University Scholars Office and led by STEM Scholarships Faculty Director James Pease. Interested students are invited to visit the website to learn more and arrange an appointment.

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