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Gessford named Goldwater Scholar

October 08, 2001

Sarah Kate Gessford’s intellectual prowess and love for biochemistry have earned her a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier undergraduate award in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Since 1995, 11 students from Lewis & Clark have won Goldwater Scholarships.

“Kate is not a student who is waiting to be enlightened,” says Janis Lochner, Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr., Professor of Science. “She is an active inquirer who astutely analyzes experimental data and draws sound conclusions. She dissects complex problems with ease.”

“I feel incredibly honored to have won the Goldwater Scholarship,” Gessford says.

Gessford, a senior majoring in biochemistry, spent this summer working with Lochner as a summer research intern. The research, which is funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health, examines the molecular basis of learning and memory formation in the brain’s hippocampal neurons.

“Kate has a robust intellectual curiosity, a formidable drive and a healthy confidence in her abilities,” says Lochner. “I was impressed that she not only critically read the NIH grant but also came to our initial interview with ideas for extending the scope of the work.”

Gessford plans to base her senior honors thesis in biochemistry on the research that she and Lochner initiated during the summer. A member of the Dr. Robert B. Pamplin, Jr., Society of Fellows, Gessford also received an Outstanding Performance in Organic Chemistry award from the Polymer Education Committee of the American Chemical Society last spring.

An avid backpacker, snowboarder, scuba diver and flutist, Gessford plans to take a year or two to travel after she graduates from Lewis & Clark. She wants to hike the Pacific Coast trail from Mexico to the Canadian border and to explore Southeast Asia or South America.

Then, she expects to pursue graduate studies to earn a doctorate in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). PNI is a new field of science that studies the connections between the nervous system and the healthy functioning of the immune system.

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