Michigan State University nominates undergraduate researchers for national Goldwater Scholarship

January 27, 2017

Four undergraduate researchers studying STEM-related fields have been nominated by Michigan State University for the nationally competitive Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

The Goldwater Foundation seeks scholars committed to a career in science, mathematics, or engineering who display intellectual intensity and who have the potential for significant future contribution in their chosen field.  MSU has produced 43 Goldwater Scholars since the scholarship program was established by Congress in 1986. The scholarship provides funding for undergraduate tuition and living expenses.

The four MSU nominees are: Honors College junior Michael Bigelow, a mechanical engineering major in the College of Engineering; Honors College junior Victor Ramirez, a physics major in Lyman Briggs College; Honors College junior Abigail Shotwell, a microbiology major in Lyman Briggs College; and Honors College junior Marilyn Werner, a microbiology major in Lyman Briggs College.

The National and International Fellowships and Scholarships (NIFS) Office, administered by the Honors College, helps interested undergraduate and graduate students to pursue major national and international opportunities by providing information and direct support throughout the competitive application processes.

“These students chose to pursue challenging research and learning opportunities that can make an impact,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the MSU Honors College. “Michigan State University is proud to recognize these students by nominating them for the Goldwater Scholarship.”

Bigelow is an undergraduate research assistant for the Plasmas and Nanomaterials Laboratory in the College of Engineering, where he develops procedures and experiments to deposit nanocrystals, which produces LED light in any color. He is pursuing a minor in Spanish.

Bigelow is also active in leadership roles on campus as an event facilitator for the Leadership Advancement Program and a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. He holds various positions on the executive board of the Pi Tau Sigma mechanical engineering fraternity and the MSU chapter of Triangle Fraternity.

Bigelow is a Spalding Scholar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and won first place for showcasing his research in a presentation about gallium nitride at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF).

Bigelow is from White Lake, Michigan and graduated from the International Academy in Bloomfield Hills.

“I thoroughly enjoy working with nanotechnology because it delivers solutions to energy concerns and problems facing our world today,” Bigelow said. “Climate change is a pressing issue and I hope to use my education to help find solutions to energy consumption problems to make a better world for future generations.”   

Ramirez is an undergraduate research assistant for the Department of Physics and Astronomy where he creates circuits using High Electron Mobility Transistors (HEMT) and tutors students in various physics courses.

He has also been an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Washington, working on quantum computing, which includes trapping ions and observing changes using a microscope. This research makes future quantum computing simulations faster and more accurate.

He is the recipient of the Spartan Achievement and the Lyman Briggs College Alumni Association scholarships. 

Ramirez lived in the Philippines until he was 10 years old, and then moved to the United States. He is from Lansing, Michigan and graduated from Sexton High School. 

“As a child of a single parent in the Philippines, I saw firsthand how hard my mother worked to create opportunities for my brother and me and that drives me every day to achieve my goals,” Ramirez said. “After earning my Ph.D. in computational physics, I plan to conduct research on quantum computing in a laboratory.”

Shotwell is an undergraduate research assistant for Professor Joan Rose’s Water Quality, Environmental, and Molecular Microbiology Lab. She has experience in virology research from the University of Nebraska, where she analyzed epidemiological data of patients in Tanzania.

Shotwell is also the co-founder and co-president of the Michigan State University Chapter of the American Society of Microbiology. She is pursuing a minor in Global Public Health and Epidemiology.

She is a recipient of the Honors College STATE Scholarship.

Shotwell is from Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from Skyline High School.

“While traveling in Nicaragua as a professorial assistant, I realized that microbiology research does not solely need to happen in a sterile lab. This experience in the field struck a passion in me to explore diseases and try to find solutions to them through research,” said Shotwell. “One of my goals is to research the prevention of infectious disease in marginalized populations, specifically in Latin America and Africa.”

Werner works as a research assistant in two different labs on campus, one of which researches tuberculosis under Assistant Professor Robert Abramovitch. She also studies diabetes among Native Americans and traditional food consumption under assistant Professor Jubin Cheruvelil.

She is the co-founder and co-president of the MSU Chapter of the American Society of Microbiology. Werner is a recipient of the Jeffrey Cole Enrichment Scholarship and also the Honors College STATE Scholarship. She won the DuVall Award for Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and is an American Society of Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fellow.

Along with a microbiology major, Werner is pursuing minors in Spanish; global public health and epidemiology; and bioethics, humanities and society.

Werner is from Okemos, Michigan and graduated from Lansing Catholic High School.

“When I studied abroad in South Africa before my freshman year, I realized how lucky we are as Americans that we all have access to health services,” Werner said. “My goal is to find cost-effective treatments for prevalent communicable diseases in developing countries like South Africa, because socioeconomic status should not be factor in whether or not a person can receive treatment.”