Posted April 25, 2024

Meet Temple’s newest Goldwater Scholar

Andrew Tran earned the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for his research in generative AI.

Andrew Tran at a mountain in Arashiyama, Kyoto
Photography By: 
Photo provided by Andrew Tran

As a computer science major, junior Andrew Tran is captivated by robots and AI.   

Now, Tran has been awarded a Goldwater Scholarship for his dedication to AI research. The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics in the United States. It is awarded to college sophomores and juniors based on their research merit and promise as a future researcher. 

Tran’s research has been performed under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Sciences Stephen MacNeil in the Temple University Human-computer Interaction (HCI) Lab.  

“Andrew’s achievements, including over 400 citations, are impressive. However, these statistics only scratch the surface of his true influence on our lab, department and fellow students,” MacNeil said. 

Tran’s research with the HCI Lab examines new generative AI models such as ChatGPT. His work specifically focuses on the use of these models in the computing classroom, and answers questions such as, “How can students use these models to improve their learning?” and, “How can instructors use these models to improve their pedagogies?” Tran hypothesizes that some of these AI models may even replace search engines in educational settings someday, and that this research will impact classrooms very soon.  

“The HCI lab overall has an amazing and very welcoming environment. Students get to solve real-world problems through an approach to thinking they might not encounter in the computer science classroom,” Tran said. “The biggest highlight of my computer science career at Temple is my time with the lab.” 

Tran’s dedication to quality research has been clear from the beginning of his academic career, particularly through his involvement with the TU Hackathon.  

Director of Fellowships Advising Barbara Gorka first met Andrew when he interviewed for the Smith Scholars program, a Temple initiative that financially supports high-achieving undergraduates from the five-county Philadelphia area and Camden, N.J. as they pursue other meaningful scholarship, fellowship, or research opportunities. “Andrew’s leadership in Temple’s Hackathon along with his research experience made him a natural selection as one of our 10 new Smith Scholars,” Gorka said. “We expect Smith Scholars to apply for one national fellowships or internal-funded opportunity before they graduate, and Andrew jumped right in, applying for and winning two national fellowships in his first year on the program—the Gilman Scholarship for his semester at Temple Japan, and then the Goldwater.” 

Currently, Tran is studying at Temple Japan, where he is taking a series of General Education courses so he can focus on research when he’s back on Main Campus. However, he remains involved with the collaborative process of the HCI Lab’s research this semester. In the future, Tran would like to delve into topics such as embodied AI, which is the concept of AI systems incorporated into physical forms like robots. 

“Andrew’s collaborative nature and ability to advise peers affirm his potential to become a world-class researcher—someone who elevates those around him, a quality the scientific community direly needs,” MacNeil said. 


The Goldwater Scholarship is administered at Temple through Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising. Rising sophomores and juniors involved with research and intending careers in STEM research are encouraged to connect with the office.