MSU undergraduate researchers awarded national Goldwater Scholarship for STEM

April 3, 2015


Two Michigan State University undergraduate researchers studying STEM-related fields have been awarded the nationally competitive Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

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The MSU Goldwater Scholars are Rebecca Carlson, an Honors College sophomore majoring in chemical engineering in the College of Engineering and Chinese in the College of Arts and Letters, and Megan Kechner, an Honors College junior majoring in neuroscience in Lyman Briggs College and psychology in the College of Social Science.

Two MSU students also received honorable mentions: Christine Isaguirre, an Honors College sophomore majoring in biosystems engineering in the College of Engineering, and Aaron Oom, an Honors College junior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology in Lyman Briggs College.

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.  The Goldwater Scholarship provides funding for undergraduate tuition and living expenses for students who are planning careers in research.

With the addition of Carlson and Kechner, MSU has produced 42 Goldwater Scholars since the scholarship program was established by Congress in 1986.

University release quote:

“Rebecca and Megan are talented students who chose to enrich their education by working collaboratively with faculty on some of the extraordinary research taking place at Michigan State University,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the MSU Honors College. “We are proud they have been named Goldwater Scholars and are now part of this prestigious group.”

Hometown release quote:

“Megan is a talented student who chose to enrich her education by working collaboratively with faculty on some of the extraordinary research taking place at Michigan State University,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the MSU Honors College. “We are proud she has been named a Goldwater Scholar and is now part of this prestigious group.”

Carlson hails from Rockford, Michigan, graduating as valedictorian of Rockford High School. Prior to that, she lived in Italy for 14 years.

She is a research assistant in Professor S. Patrick Walton’s Applied Biomolecular Engineering Laboratory, researching how RNA molecules interact in the design of treatments for diabetes mellitus. She earned a first place award at the 2014 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF).

Carlson is a member of the student editorial board for the Red Cedar Undergraduate Research Journal (ReCUR), tutors in the College of Engineering Residential Experience (CoRe) and is a member of Women in Engineering and Bridges International.

She is also the recipient of an MSU Alumni Distinguished Scholarship.

 “I am very humbled to receive this award, which is a testament to the wonderful support and encouragement that I have received from students and faculty alike at Michigan State,” Carlson said. “I am grateful for the chance to participate in research and learn from outstanding mentors.”

Kechner is from Davison, Michigan and a graduate of Davison High School.

She is a research assistant, working in Professor Michelle Mazei-Robison’s lab determining the specific signaling changes in the human brain that contribute to addiction and mood disorders. Kechner also interned at the Silvio O. Conte Neuroscience Research Center at Vanderbilt University.

She’s is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the MSU’s Neuroscience Club and presented research in November 2014 to the Society for Neuroscience. Kechner is a recipient of the Lyman Briggs College Undergraduate Research Award.

“To be recognized as a Goldwater Scholar means a great deal to me,” Kechner said. “I have found so much enthusiasm for research and it has been one of the most influential aspects of my academic career. I am overjoyed to be surrounded by such exceptional opportunity and mentorship here at Michigan State.”

The National and International Fellowship and Scholarship (NIFS) Office at Michigan State University, 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. The Honors College serves academically talented, committed students who wish to pursue and achieve academic excellence.