Oxford alumnus Anish "Max" Bagga awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Freya Haque and Daniel Christian •

Left to right: Anish “Max” Bagga, Oxford alumnus; Yena Woo; and Noah Okada
Three Emory students—(left to right) Anish “Max” Bagga, Oxford alumnus; Yena Woo; and Noah Okada—were named Goldwater Scholars, one of the nation’s top scholarships for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering.

Oxford alumnus, Anish "Max" Bagga, now a junior on the Atlanta campus, was one of three Emory students to receive the Goldwater Scholarship—one of the nation’s top scholarships for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering.

Oxford alumnus Anish “Max” Bagga 21OX 23C is one of three Emory students to receive the 2022 Goldwater Scholarship, a national award that since 1986 has supported students who intend to pursue unique research in STEM fields and have taken advantage of inquiry and laboratory opportunities on their respective campuses.

Bagga, who is double majoring in math and computer science, was recognized for building a computational model of how humans distribute thyroid hormones to tissue with the Rollins School of Public Health and, with the Emory School of Medicine, conducting spatial analysis to see how efficient different animal hosts are at allowing the flu virus to exchange genes and create new strains.

“Being nominated and ultimately rewarded with the Goldwater Scholarship was an opportunity for me to take a break and look in the rearview mirror,” Bagga said. “I was able to see that the rigorous effort that I put into my academics, my public speaking skills, or just being a better person in general pay off.” 

Bagga is happy to have won the scholarship, but he is also motivated by it. His idea of success, in regards to the award and life, is to continue to pursue creating a “positive impact on other people and the world.”

His interest in the intersections of medicine and computer science began at Oxford, where he took classes with Sean Mo, a Lecturer in Chemistry. Bagga credits Mo’s Chem 150 class with transforming his view of chemistry and its application in biology and physics. He also credits Oxford’s small class sizes with helping develop his intellectual curiosity and fostering student-mentor connections—like the one he had with Mo.

“Oxford played an enormous impact. I don’t think I would have won the scholarship [without it],” Bagga said. “I flourished in the small classroom. Every day I would challenge myself to answer the toughest questions my professors would ask, which in turn allowed me to be more engaged with the content in all my classes. Oxford really helped facilitate that relationship between mentor and student.”

Mo could tell early on that Bagga had high potential: After having him in class, he brought him back as a student instructor for Chem 150 the next semester. Now, Mo says it’s no surprise that Bagga is succeeding in Atlanta.

“Max demonstrated a number of strengths as a student instructor, including meticulous preparation, capacity to digest complex ideas, strong work ethic, and leadership skills,” Mo said. “Throughout his years at Oxford and Emory, Max has sought out opportunities to immerse himself into the leading edge of academics and research. I am delighted that Max will receive the Goldwater Scholarship as I know it will provide even greater opportunities to help him achieve his goal of becoming an imminent scientist in the field of biomedical sciences.”

The Goldwater Scholarship honors the legacy of Senator Barry Goldwater by awarding dedicated students who have exhibited academic excellence in their field and demonstrate the potential to contribute to the sciences in the United States. In the last 36 years, 45 Emory students have been named Goldwater Scholars.

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