Scientific research conducted by two Kenyon students has been rewarded with the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.
Physics major Eliana Crawford ’17 of Toledo, Ohio, and biochemistry major Trevor Manz ’17 of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, earned the scholarship honor that is intended to encourage the development of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers.
Congress established the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program in 1988 upon the retirement of the five-term U.S. senator and one-time presidential nominee. “I don’t know his full history, but I know he was a strong supporter of the natural sciences who believed in bringing people together to pursue careers in research,” Manz said of Goldwater.
Manz and Crawford are among 252 sophomores and juniors nationwide who have been selected as Goldwater scholars for the 2016-17 academic year. The award provides each student with $7,500 for tuition and other education-related expenses.
The scholarships are considered the premier awards for undergraduates studying the sciences, mathematics and engineering. Both Crawford and Manz were surprised to receive the awards due to the intense competition among the country’s top students. “People who apply are all incredibly gifted,” Crawford said.
Both students partly attributed their success to the potential impact of their research.
Crawford has worked with Professor of Physics Frank Peiris on the application of a phenomenon known as surface plasmon resonance (SPR) to detect viruses and other pathogens in the blood. The technique promises to be faster and more efficient than traditional diagnostic methods.
“An SPR machine in a medical office could test blood samples for a host of diseases, giving same-day results,” Crawford wrote in a paper explaining her project. “Ultimately, this technology will give patients access to rapid and inexpensive diagnoses on which their lives depend.”
Crawford was able to pursue her research at Kenyon through independent study and participation in the Summer Science Scholars program.
Manz won the scholarship for investigating genetic modifications to develop adaptive crops that can grow in environmentally stressed conditions. “With a rapidly growing population and changes in climate, new tools must be used to feed the world,” he said.
His work in genetics research was conducted at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center as part of the Pelotonia Fellowship Program, a partnership between Kenyon and OSU that provides research opportunities for six Kenyon students each summer.
At Kenyon, Manz works as an organic chemist in the lab of John Hofferberth, associate professor of chemistry, where he investigates synthetic techniques applied to small, biologically relevant molecules.
Manz and Crawford were among four students nominated by Kenyon for the Goldwater after a rigorous screening process. The awards are intended for students who plan to continue their research in graduate school.
“We put a lot of effort as an institution into identifying strong candidates and working with them on their applications,” said Professor of Biology Wade Powell, the 2016 Goldwater scholarship faculty representative. “These winners show that we have students who are very successful in scientific research and demonstrate great promise in their careers. The painstaking search to find the best prospects for next year’s scholarships already has begun.”
In addition to their academic and research work, Crawford and Manz compete on the Kenyon swimming teams.