Four Clemson University Honors College students received the 2023 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious and highly competitive national award for sophomore and junior students with the potential to advance research in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering.

Bioengineering junior Vaishnavi Kanduri, physics sophomore Grant Mondeel, mechanical engineering junior Giovanni Orlandi and microbiology junior Joshua Tucker were selected from more than 1,267 students nominated by 427 universities nationwide. Clemson continues to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with 42 Goldwater Scholars since 2006.

“Vaishnavi, Grant, Giovanni and Joshua are exceptional students who have the potential to become leading global engineers and scientists,” said Robert Jones, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Their success is a testament to the tremendous research opportunities available to our students and the faculty that encourage their growth.”

Scholars receive $7,500 for tuition, fees, books or room and board for up to two years. Previous Goldwater Scholars from Clemson have gone on to win other prominent postgraduate awards, including the Astronaut and Churchill scholarships and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship.

Meet the Goldwater Scholars

Vaishnavi Kanduri (Summerville, South Carolina)

Vaishnavi Kanduri  standing in a forested area and leaning against a metal guardrail.

Vaishnavi Kanduri is a junior majoring in bioengineering with a concentration in biomaterials and minors in genetics and materials science and engineering. She has been mentored by Jessica Larsen, an assistant professor of chemical engineering. 

After graduation, Kanduri plans to ​​earn a Ph.D. in bioengineering and conduct research on the applications of nanoparticles for the delivery of therapeutics in the human body. She aspires to lead a research laboratory. 

Kanduri received the Department of Bioengineering’s Outstanding Sophomore Award and the Robert Moorman Award for Outstanding Junior from the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. She is also a Palmetto Fellow who has maintained a 4.0 while being active in the Honors College and the Biomedical Engineering Society. She has served as team leader on two projects, presented her work a dozen times (including at 5 national conferences), published a first-authored review paper in her first year and has a coauthored publication under review.

Grant Mondeel (Lexington, South Carolina)

Grant Mondeel posing in front of the Honors Center with his arms folded.

Grant Mondeel is a sophomore majoring in physics and minoring in mathematical sciences. He has been mentored by physics professors Endre Takacs, Joan Marler and Yuri Ralchenko.

He plans to start taking graduate courses in his remaining two years at Clemson before seeking a Ph.D. in atomic physics and a job as a researcher in a national lab.

Mondeel took part in a research project with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) last summer, where he broadened his understanding of atomic physics, which studies the building blocks of the atom and its interactions. Since then, he has co-authored a published scientific paper, has another in progress, and presented a research poster at an international conference. He is the recipient of the L.D. Huff Scholarship for Excellence in Physics and Astronomy (Most Outstanding Sophomore).

Giovanni Orlandi (Charleston, South Carolina)

Giovanni Orlandi posing in front of the Honors Center with his arms folded.

Giovanni Orlandi is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in physics. He has been mentored by Fadi Abdeljawad, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Enrique Martinez Saez, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering.

After graduation, Orlandi plans to obtain a Ph.D. with a primary focus on theoretical and computational materials science and then pursue research opportunities in academia or a U.S. national laboratory. 

Orlandi was accepted for a summer research internship at Sandia National Laboratories. At Clemson, he worked as an Academic Success Center tutor for a variety of STEM courses, served as an officer in Clemson’s student chapter of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and has built community in the Department of Mechanical Engineering as a Jansen Scholar. He also co-authored a paper that is under review at a high impact journal and presented a research poster at an international conference last month.

Joshua Tucker (Batesburg-Leesville, South Carolina)

Joshua Tucker posing in front of the Honors Center with his arms folded.

Joshua Tucker is a junior majoring in microbiology and minoring in biological sciences. He’s been mentored by biological sciences faculty Antonio Baeza and Barbara Campbell.

After he graduates from Clemson, Tucker plans to pursue a Ph.D. and support outreach programs for STEM-minded students in rural and underrepresented communities.

A first-generation college student, Tucker grew up in rural South Carolina with few opportunities to explore science outside the classroom. He made the most of the resources available, graduating from high school with an associate degree earned through dual enrollment.

Tucker transferred to Clemson from Western Carolina University in Fall 2021. Since then, he’s participated in an undergraduate research experience (REU) at Cornell University funded by the NSF and joined two research labs on campus, all while maintaining a 4.0. He’s also authored his first research publication and started an Honors thesis.

About the Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Goldwater, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. Participating universities are typically able to nominate up to four students for the scholarship each year. In 2023, only 21 nominating institutions received more than three awards.


Students interested in the Goldwater Scholarship or other nationally competitive programs should contact the Office of Major Fellowships at 864-656-9704 or

Want to Discuss?

Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.

Or email us at

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.