Alvin Villarosa ’25 named Barry Goldwater Scholar

Alvin Villarosa ’25.

Photo by Isaiah Tulanda ’20

Alvin Villarosa ’25, a Claremont McKenna College Science Management major with a Neuroscience concentration, has been awarded the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the highest governmental honor for undergraduate STEM researchers.

Awarded to college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the next generation of research leaders, the Goldwater Scholarship is among the oldest and most sought-after undergraduate scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics fields. Eleven Claremont McKenna students have been named Goldwater Scholars since Congress established the scholarship in 1986 to honor U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater.

Villarosa applied for the Goldwater Scholarship with support from his advisor, CMC Professor Alison Harris, and CMC Professor Wei-Chin Hwang, both of whom he has collaborated with on graduate-level research projects. He applied for the scholarship through a competitive nomination process, and with support from CMC's fellowships advising department, which has helped nearly 100 students apply to over 25 fellowships opportunities this year.

"Alvin is an extremely promising scholar,” said Hwang. “I have no doubt that he will make significant contributions to the field and help address important public health issues." 

At CMC, Villarosa embodies the College’s mission to prepare students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions and to pursue scholarship that contributes to intellectual vitality and the understanding of public policy issues. 

“As I worked with Alvin throughout the application, it was apparent that his interest in the future of research and medicine embodied the spirit of CMC: His dedication to science management and equity is a great example of the kind of student Goldwater is looking for,” said Yi Shun Lai ’96, CMC’s Assistant Director of Fellowships Advising.

Villarosa exposed himself to STEM research early on at CMC, specifically learning and applying various neural techniques and technology to learn more about the brain.

For his research work, Villarosa has investigated seizures in mice, looking at potential dysregulated glycoproteins in neurons and their electrical properties using electroencephalography. His ultimate goal is to attend medical school and pursue a PhD to research ways to alleviate epilepsy symptoms and disorders.

“After graduation, I hope to diagnose and investigate certain neurological disorders using electrophysiological techniques and drug intervention,” said Villarosa. “I hope to conduct my own translational research at an academic medical institution or research hospital.”

Villarosa is one of 438 Goldwater Scholars selected from a pool of 1,353 undergraduate students nominated by 446 academic institutions in the United States, according to the Barry Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Foundation. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 per academic year.

A native of Smyrna, Tenn., Villarosa emigrated from the Philippines as a child with his mother and brother.

“Living in Smyrna, I had to navigate my community, identity, and interests around me while keeping my cultural home close to my heart. I made a bold move to attend college across the country at CMC,” said Villarosa. “I remember I told my mom I was going to college here, not even asking—something I have never done before!”

Villarosa said he will never forget his roots and the challenges he has overcome. Ultimately, he hopes to make the research path inclusive and equitable for students from diverse backgrounds.

“As a first-generation immigrant, I recognize and experienced the obstacles in navigating through these avenues and pathways, and I aspire, alongside my MD and PhD pursuits to be at the forefront in inclusive and equitable approaches to research, medicine, and healthcare and provide the meaningful opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to become engaged in these fields,” Villarosa said.

Gilien Silsby


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