Former Petit Scholar Najia Named Goldwater Scholar

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Mohamad Ali Najia, an undergraduate student in Georgia Tech’s Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, has earned the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for his work in science and engineering.

Najia chose to enroll at Georgia Tech in 2010 because of the biomedical engineering department’s reputation and research opportunities.

“I has always been my long-term plan to go on to graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering,” Najia said. He was first drawn to this area of study in high school as he learned about the potential of stem cells and their role in curing disease.

In his first semester, Najia joined Associate Professor Todd McDevitt’s "Engineering Stem Cell Technologies" laboratory, where he worked with graduate student Jenna Wilson, a Ph.D. candidate in the BioEngineering Graduate Program. Najia’s research project, “Influencing encapsulated stem cell factor secretion through hypoxic conditioning,” was to design a culture environment that would generate a greater impact on tissue regeneration.

In addition to being an Honors Program student, he went on to become editor-in-chief of The Tower, Tech’s peer-reviewed undergraduate research journal, and, last summer, he was a bioinformatics fellow through the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

In 2012, Najia was a selected as a Beckman Coulter Scholar in the 2012 class of Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars program at Georgia Tech’s Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. The “Petit Scholars” program is a competitive, full-year independent research opportunity for elite undergraduate students in bioengineering and bioscience who are mentored by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. The Petit Institute has sponsored this program since 2000 and has successfully supported the research of over 200 young scientists, many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers in academics, medicine and industry.

Throughout his undergraduate career, Najia has focused on his dream of generating fully functional tissues for implantation into patients, with the goal of curbing a nationwide allograft shortage, improving patient recovery, and saving lives.

“The Goldwater is an initial step toward building a career in the biomedical engineering field and performing impactful research,” he said.

He hopes to become a professor with a lab focused on genome engineering and is already excited to mentor the next generation of scientists.

“I am incredibly grateful for the institutional support, both through the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience and the Biomedical Engineering department that I have received for my undergraduate research,” he said. “Most importantly, I am thankful for the mentorship of several faculty members, including Georgia Tech faculty members, Todd McDevitt and Brani Vidakovic who served as valuable mentors.”

Named for U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to students in science, mathematics and engineering who intend to pursue research careers in their fields, with the intent of providing a continuing source of highly qualified scholars in these areas.

To learn more about how to apply for prestigious fellowships, visit GT Fellowships.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Colly Mitchell
  • Created: 04/04/2014
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 05/26/2022

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