Undergraduate Academic Affairs

March 28, 2022

UW sophomore Alex Mallen and junior Sharlene Shirali selected for the Goldwater Scholarship

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Congratulations to University of Washington sophomore Alex Mallen, a computer science major, and junior Sharlene Shirali, a neuroscience major, whom the Goldwater Foundation honored with its undergraduate scholarship for students studying the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Mallen and Shirali join 417 undergraduate students selected for the award from a pool of 1,242 students nominated by 433 institutions across the country.

Goldwater Scholarships are granted to sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise and plan to pursue research careers in math, engineering or the natural sciences. These scholarships award up to $7,500 a year to help cover costs associated with tuition, mandatory fees, books, room and board.

Meet the 2022 Goldwater Scholars

Alex Mallen // Sophomore // Computer Science

Photo of Alex Mallen Alex Mallen’s undergraduate research has focused on machine learning methods for time-series forecasting inspired by dynamical systems theory. Under the supervision of Prof. Nathan Kutz at the AI Institute for Dynamic Systems, he developed and applied these methods to various scientific and engineering problems such as prediction of energy demand, atmospheric pollution forecasting and earthquake prediction.

Mallen’s interest in neuroscience brought him to the Allen Institute, where he completed an internship analyzing the connectivity patterns of cortical neurons based on a 3D reconstruction of a cubic millimeter of mouse visual cortex with the goal of contributing to scientific understanding of the algorithms of the brain.

Outside of research, Mallen is interested in Effective Altruism, which is a global network that tries to understand and act upon some of the world’s most pressing problems. He is currently trying to grow a community of people at the UW interested in figuring out how to best direct their positive efforts and find impactful careers.

Mallen plans to explore the state of the art in AI research and eventually earn a Ph.D. in machine learning. He envisions a career in the development of AI.

Sharlene Shirali // Junior // Neuroscience

Photo of Sharlene ShiraliMotivated by her experiences with people who have neurological diseases, junior Sharlene Shirali is majoring in neuroscience.

Shirali’s current research project investigates the relationship between CFH/FHL-1 haploinsufficiency and regulators of complement activation and their potential contribution to the pathology of early-onset macular drusen (EOMD), an inherited retinal degenerative disease.

Research has been key to Shirali’s Husky experience. Working in the lab has complemented and expanded upon her knowledge from coursework. She hopes to continue learning, developing, and refining her skills in the lab as she works on her research project. Shirali’s time in the lab has introduced her to many different aspects of research and allowed her to learn new concepts and application of techniques. It has also awarded her with a Washington Research Foundation Fellowship.

After graduating, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience and work to develop cures for chronic neurological diseases.

Outside of class, Shirali enjoys writing short stories and poems and exploring new hiking trails.

For more information, contact Robin Chang, director of the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards, at robinc@uw.edu.