Two Kenyon students investigating the development of cancer cells and antibiotic resistance have been awarded coveted Goldwater scholarships to continue their work and build a foundation for future research careers.
Biochemistry major Sarah Manz ’19 and molecular biology major Jeremy Moore ’19 were among just 211 students nationwide to receive the most prestigious undergraduate award in mathematics, science and engineering. The honor provides each winner with up to $7,500 for tuition and other education-related expenses.
In the laboratory of Professor of Chemistry Mo Hunsen, Manz has been testing on a cellular level the cancer-prevention ability of natural product derivatives. In the immunology laboratory last summer at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center — James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, where she was a Pelotonia scholar, Manz helped engineer a type of tumor-fighting immune cell.
Manz cited her uncle, who is fighting an incurable form of cancer, as the inspiration for her research. “He is someone very special to me,” she said. “He goes with us on family vacations and is there for every big event in our family’s life.”
Hunsen, her academic advisor, described Manz as one of the brightest and hardest working students on campus. “She had a perfect score on all the quizzes, tests and papers in my organic chemistry lecture. She didn’t miss anything. That happens about once every five years,” he said.
Manz, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has followed in the footsteps of her brother Trevor Manz ’17, who also earned a Goldwater Scholarship and is about to begin graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle. Another brother, Wesley Manz ’15, is attending medical school at Emory University in Atlanta.
Manz’s post-graduate plans include conducting research in cancer immunology and teaching on a university level. “I didn’t see myself as a strong candidate for the Goldwater award, but [my professors] gave me confidence and made me realize my potential,” she said.
In the laboratory of Joan Slonczewski, the Robert A. Oden Jr. professor of biology, Moore investigates the evolution of bacteria in different environments, with the hope someday to overcome antibiotic resistance.
Although Moore received an honorable mention last year, he did not expect to receive a Goldwater Scholarship this year because “some crazy good proposals are submitted from big schools,” he said.
“Jeremy is discovering how aspirin and acid stress cause bacteria to lose their genes for antibiotic resistance,” Slonczewski said. “He understands biochemistry at a deep level and conducts experiments like a graduate student.
“He’s also a great team player, organizing collaborative experiments with other students,” Slonczewski added. “He arranged a Star Wars party for our bacteria lab group. He plays piano professionally and has given us concerts.”
Moore, of Midland, Michigan, credited the support of Slonczewski and Professor of Biology Wade Powell, Kenyon’s faculty representative for the Goldwater Scholarship, for his honor. “I couldn’t have done this without them,” he said. “They were especially helpful with a series of revisions on my application essays.”
Moore plans to pursue a PhD in systems biology and a career researching the evolution of genetic networks in response to stressors.
Additionally, Patrick Shaw ’19, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, earned an honorable mention for his research with Associate Professor of Physics Tom Giblin. Shaw performs research in “computational cosmology” that simulates structures in the cosmos. He developed software that allows a certain type of computation to be performed more efficiently. Shaw plans to pursue a PhD and research career in physics, and is also an accomplished guitarist.
Congress established the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program in 1988 upon the retirement of the five-term U.S. senator from Arizona and one-time Republican nominee for president.