The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) named a UT Austin biomedical engineering student as part of their 2023 Astronaut Scholar Class. Maanas Gupta is a rising senior whose research focuses on patient-specific stem cells to engineer functional cardiac tissue.

This method could one day lead to the possibility of regenerating heart muscle, Gupta said.

The Astronaut Scholarship is a national award given to a select group of outstanding undergraduate students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Astronaut Scholars are among the best and brightest minds in STEM who show initiative, creativity, and excellence in their chosen field.

As an Astronaut Scholar, Maanas will receive:

  • Scholarship up to $15,000
  • The opportunity to represent UT Austin at ASF’s Scholar Technical Conference
  • Mentoring by a scholar alumni, C-suite executive, or astronaut
  • Membership in the Astronaut Scholar Honor Society

Upon graduation, Gupta plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in biomedical engineering specializing in cardiac tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Gupta’s inspiration came from his interactions with cancer patients. He said that he wants his research to directly translate to patients and overcome the existing barriers that limit regenerative medicine from being used in a clinical setting.

“Having already been in Dr. Janet Zoldan’s lab, I requested to pivot my project to tackle this translational gap. The Astronaut Scholarship will guide me closer to becoming the physician-scientist I aspire to be, harnessing cardiovascular research and providing treatments for cardiac patients,” said Gupta.

His faculty mentors include Zoldan and Sharan Ramaswamy of the Cockrell School and Janice Fischer of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the College of Natural Sciences.

In April of 2023, Gupta received the Goldwater Scholarship, the preeminent award for undergraduate students who conduct research in the natural sciences, mathematics or engineering. 

This year the ASF awarded 68 scholarships to students from 46 different universities across the nation. Gupta is the only UT Austin student to receive the ASF scholarship.