By Kristen Mitchell
Three George Washington University students—junior Logan Bartholomew, second-year Christianne Chua and junior Maggie Steiner—have been named 2019 Goldwater Scholars, a prestigious recognition for undergraduate students pursuing careers in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.
These undergraduate researchers each will receive support from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation and join a community of accomplished program alumni.
“I am thrilled that these students have been recognized for their outstanding work in the classroom and the laboratory,” said Paul Hoyt-O'Connor, director of the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research.” I also appreciate deeply how their faculty mentors are preparing Logan, Christianne and Maggie to join the next generation of research scientists.”
Scholarship winners had to be nominated for the scholarship and go through a rigorous application process that requires multiple letters of recommendation and an essay on their research. The three GW students join a cohort of 493 scholars who were selected from a pool of more than 5,000 undergraduates.
Mr. Bartholomew, who is majoring in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry and a minor in biology, has been working under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Associate Professor of Chemistry Cynthia Dowd for the past two years. His projects have focused on the design and synthesis of novel therapeutic compounds to combat malaria and tuberculosis, diseases that have developed resistance to many drugs on the market over the past few years.
The Goldwater Scholarship will allow Mr. Bartholomew to continue and hopefully broaden his research when he returns to Foggy Bottom in the fall.
“Organic and medicinal chemistry take a long time and having the time to be really hands on there and fully dedicate myself to an independent project will be fantastic,” he said. “I can’t believe this is something I am apart of now, it’s really such an honor to be recognized by such a like-minded group of individuals.”
After graduation, Mr. Bartholomew plans to pursue a Ph.D. focused on synthetic and medicinal chemistry.
Ms. Chua, a second-year student majoring in biomedical engineering, began working with School of Engineering and Applied Science Professor Emilia Entcheva as a first-year student. Her projects have focused on creating 3D structures composed of live optogenetically-transformed cells to optically control cardiac tissue for heart-related drug testing and toxicity screening applications.
She plans to continue this work under Dr. Entcheva next year. Ms. Chua was immediately interested in getting involved in research when she came to GW, despite not having any previous experience with optogenetics.
“I really wanted to learn something new and specialized, something that couldn’t really be taught in a classroom,” she said.
Ms. Chua plans to graduate early next year and eventually pursue a Ph.D.
“I love working in the lab and doing research,” she said. “I want to take that and apply it to a higher level program and kind of see where that takes me.”
Ms. Steiner, who is majoring in applied mathematics with minors in biology and economics, has been working as an undergraduate research assistant under Keith Crandall, director of the GW Computational Biology Institute, for the past three years. She worked on a study of the history of the HIV epidemic in Washington, D.C. over 28 year span, that used bioinformatics techniques to characterize transmission and drug resistance. Ms. Steiner’s role has focused on analyzing genetic data.
Over the past few years, Ms. Steiner has enjoyed being able to focus on more independent research projects and discovering where her interests lay. The mentorship she has received at GW helped Ms. Steiner hone in on what she wants to do and helped her grow as a scientist, she said.
"This scholarship really reflects that we’ve [all] had the opportunity to do so many exciting projects and make contributions to our field at this early stage of our career,” she said. “It’s been so fulfilling to be able to do that.”
Ms. Steiner, a founding member of the GW Undergraduate Review, is thankful to join this community of Goldwater Scholar as she prepares to apply to Ph.D. programs. She plans to broadly study quantitative methods for the analysis of biomedical data with the end goal of improving medical and public health practices.
To learn more about available research opportunities contact the GW Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research.