University Scholar Wins Baylor’s Unprecedented Fourth Consecutive Churchill Scholarship

Alagu Subramanian is among 16 recipients of the prestigious STEM scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation

April 18, 2024
Student in a shirt and tie in front of a flowering tree and wooden fence

Alagu Subramanian, B.A. (University Scholar) ’23, is Baylor’s fourth consecutive Churchill Scholar and will study for a master’s degree at Churchill College, Cambridge.

WACO, Texas (April 18, 2024) – Alagu Subramanian, B.A. ’23, who studied at Baylor University as a University Scholar with concentrations in biology, medical humanities and business administration, is among 16 recipients of the prestigious and highly selective Churchill Scholarship in science, mathematics and engineering, announced by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States.

Subramanian is Baylor’s fourth consecutive Churchill, an unprecedented success given the University has been a nominating institution for only four years. He joins Baylor Churchill Scholars Arvind Muruganantham, B.S. (cell and molecular biology) ’23, Kate Rojales, B.S. (chemistry) ’22, and Emily Schultz, B.S. (biology) ’21, in studying for a master’s degree at Churchill College, Cambridge. 

“Because the standards are so very high and the number of awards is so very few, we consider the Churchill the preeminent award available to undergraduates in STEM,” said Andrew P. Hogue, Ph.D., associate dean for engaged learning at Baylor. “That Baylor has done something unprecedented in the history of the award by winning our fourth in a row is simply astonishing – a testament to our brilliant students, dedicated science faculty and vibrant undergraduate research enterprise. Alagu undoubtedly deserves his place in the Baylor-to-Cambridge pipeline.”

The Churchill Scholarship was established at the request of Sir Winston Churchill as part of the founding of Churchill College, Cambridge. It fulfills his vision of deepening the U.S.–UK partnership to advance science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, ensuring future prosperity and security. The Churchill covers full tuition, a competitive stipend, travel costs and the chance to apply for a $4,000 special research grant.

At Cambridge, Subramanian will pursue an M.Phil. in Medical Science within the Cambridge Department of Surgery and the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute. He will work alongside Dr. Andrew McCaskie and Dr. Mark Birch on a project investigating cellular conditions to enrich stem cells for transplantation as a regenerative therapy for osteoarthritis.

Following his studies at Cambridge, Subramanian plans to pursue an M.D. while conducting research in translational drug discovery and developing first-in-class therapeutics.

“I applied for the Churchill to have the opportunity to explore a new country while conducting groundbreaking research at a world-renown institution. I fell in love with chasing the science as a result of my research experiences across the academia, industry and government sectors. Every question I asked led to a new question and produced an opportunity to translate findings to improve each patient's lived experience with disease,” Subramanian said.

“The Churchill Scholarship will allow me to experience a new culture with horizons set in a new country. An experience that enables the opportunity to study abroad while building relationships that will shape my professional future. I have heard that Cambridge science dances on the rooftops and I simply cannot wait to dance,” he added.

This is Subramanian’s second major scholarship, having won Baylor’s sixth straight Goldwater Scholarship in 2023. The Goldwater is the preeminent undergraduate scholarship given in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics and provided him the encouragement to continue researching in the pursuit of developing innovative therapies to benefit patients.

Undergraduate research experiences

As a Baylor undergraduate from San Ramon, California, Subramanian found a natural research mentor in associate biology professor Joseph Taube, B.S. ’03, Ph.D., whose Taube Lab focuses primarily on molecular pathways and cellular properties that enable primary tumor cells to metastasize. He first met Taube at an Invitation to Excellence event as a prospective Baylor student.

“Dr. Taube spoke to me about his research in breast cancer metastasis which inspired me and was a key factor in my decision to come to Baylor and work with him,” Subramanian said.

He began his undergraduate research in the Taube Lab virtually during COVID, but Taube said despite this difficulty, Subramanian was undeterred and acted with extraordinary independence and capability very quickly.

As an aspiring medical researcher and physician with interest in novel therapeutic discovery, Subramanian worked on the lab’s small molecules project and served as the biology lead of the MiniPharma collaboration, a collaborative undergraduate research program focused on molecular modeling, synthesis and cellular assays toward the identification of novel drug-leads.

“I tasked Alagu with assessing the anti-cancer activity of several compounds provided by the Romo research lab. He not only measured cytotoxicity across a range of cancers but also identified a potential biomarker which may indicate susceptibility to these molecules,” Taube said. “I loved having Alagu in my lab because I love mentoring Baylor students with an interest in research. Getting to be part of their discovery that they themselves can generate meaningful and novel data and join the community of research scientists is a blessing to me.”

student standing next to his research poster presentation
As an accomplished undergraduate researcher and now Churchill Scholar, Alagu Subramanian flourished in the Taube Lab at Baylor, working alongside faculty mentor Joseph Taube, Ph.D., on cancer biology research.

Subramanian presented his data on cancer biology targeting cancer stem cells at the SURE conference in Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. In October 2023, he presented a poster of his work as one of the few undergraduates at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston, and was first author on the research published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. The work he started, Taube said, is the basis for a new graduate student’s project, and they will be co-authors on a forthcoming publication.

Subramanian’s additional research and publishing include:

  • Polyclonal antibody discovery work at GigaGen Inc. with Sheila Keating, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases;
  • G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) discovery research as an Amgen Scholar in the lab of Robert Lefkowitz, M.D., at Duke University School of Medicine; and
  • Nerve agent antidote discovery work with Carlos Valdez, Ph.D., at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, published in the journal Tetrahedron. Subramanian also was first author about the findings published in Nature Scientific Reports and presented at the Fall 2022 meeting of the American Chemical Society.

“No matter what choice of career Alagu makes, he will make a strong positive impact,” Taube said. “He has a mind for detail but also for the big picture. He is always looking for opportunities to translate research for clinical benefit.”

As part of his medical humanities concentration at Baylor, Subramanian also worked closely with Bill Hoy, D.Min., clinical professor of medical humanities, and presented a scholarly paper of novel grief models at the peer-reviewed international conference of the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC).

Maximizing scholarship beyond the classroom

Subramanian’s achievement comes on the heels of a record-shattering year for Baylor students who, in addition to the Churchill, have attained some of the most prominent national and international scholarships, including the Fulbright, Goldwater, Boren, Critical Language, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships and the GEM Fellowship.

“I decided to come to Baylor because it was a place where I found people who truly sought to encourage my growth in both an academic and personal capacity,” Subramanian said. “I am very thankful for the faculty mentors I have gained throughout my undergraduate study who have guided my curiosity with great support and inspiration.”

The Office of Engaged Learning, led by Hogue, partners with Baylor students like Subramanian in collaboration with faculty and staff throughout the University, to help maximize their scholarship beyond the classroom, including applying and competing for top scholarships, fellowships, internships and research experiences. 


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


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