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Max Bjorni

Max Bjorni '21, a double major in neuroscience and biology, is the first Santa Clara University student to win the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship in over a decade.

Santa Clara University junior Max Bjorni 21, a double major in neuroscience and biology, is one of this year’s 396 Goldwater Scholars, and will receive a $7,500 scholarship to help fund his undergraduate education.

Established by Congress in 1986, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation recognizes the nation’s top college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. 

“I am truly honored to receive a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, and am eager to demonstrate my potential as a scientist,” Bjorni says. “It feels great to know that others view my research experiences at Santa Clara University as promising indicators of the future impact I can have.”

Bjorni credits much of his development in research to his work with Lindsay Halladay, assistant professor of psychology. Since his first quarter at Santa Clara, he says the Halladay lab has provided experiences that are essential to his future career, including learning advanced lab techniques, troubleshooting experiments, and presenting at professional research conferences. Working alongside Halladay, Bjorni has realized his love of research and his desire to pursue it as a profession.

Bjorni also attributes much of his academic success to Santa Clara University’s smaller class sizes, which allow students more interaction with professors. 

“I've been able to develop more meaningful relationships with my professors than I otherwise would have if I was sitting in a lecture hall with hundreds of other students,” says Bjorni. “So many of the professors I've had truly care about the intellectual and professional development of their students. They are phenomenal teachers.”

After graduation next year, Bjorni intends to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience, to research the biological mechanisms that underlie neurological disorders such as chronic neuropathic pain. He also hopes to teach a range of introductory and advanced neuroscience and biology courses at the university level.