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Three students honored with Goldwater science awards

March 31, 2014

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    Colin Gavin ’15

Three Lewis & Clark students—Colin Gavin ’15, Sarah Lowenstein ’15, and Keira Roberts ’15—received Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships this spring for their exceptional work in the sciences, the largest number of scholars from any school, public or private, in Oregon.

The students are among the 283 Goldwater recipients for 2014, selected from a field of 1,166 applicants nationwide. The Goldwater Scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

Widely considered the preeminent award in the United States for undergraduates preparing for careers in the sciences, Goldwater Scholarships have been awarded to 12 Lewis & Clark students in the past seven years. Since 2005, Lewis & Clark has produced more Goldwater winners than any other private or public college in Oregon.

Colin Gavin ’15

Hometown: Gilroy, California

Major: Mathematics and Physics

What drew you to studying the sciences?

My primary interest at Lewis & Clark has always been mathematics because I find it elegant and beautiful in its own right. However, I have found that studying physics in addition to math gives a wider perspective of the place of mathematics in the sciences and a better understanding of its development and goals. 

Do you work closely with faculty? What is that experience like?

I have worked quite closely with Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences Liz Stanhope during the last year, and I will be starting a new project with Assistant Professor of Mathematics Paul T. Allen this summer. During our research last summer, Professor Stanhope met with us daily to help us work through problems that we had encountered and give her feedback, but otherwise she gave us a great deal of freedom to explore our own ideas. It is often difficult to know if you’re on the right track when doing mathematical research, so this approach was very helpful.

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Lewis & Clark education is preparing you for those goals?

I plan to apply to graduate school to study mathematics. In particular, I would like to study geometric analysis or a related field. Lewis & Clark’s math department has been invaluable in my education and preparation for graduate study. Its small size makes it a welcoming environment and ensures that opportunities to work with faculty abound.

imageSarah Lowenstein ’15


Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

What drew you to studying the sciences?

I have always enjoyed studying the sciences, and was motivated to choose biochemistry and molecular biology as my major after taking a high school cellular, molecular, and biomedical science course. This course highlighted how understanding the molecular mechanisms of biological processes can yield insights relevant to disease. As I continue to study the sciences, I have come to realize how much we still do not understand about biological systems, and that motivates me to pursue scientific research.

Do you work closely with faculty? What is that experience like?

The highlight of my academic career at Lewis & Clark has been the ability to work closely with faculty. Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr. Professor of Science Janis Lochner has been an immense resource for me in expanding my knowledge, curiosity, and interest in the sciences. Conducting undergraduate research has inspired me to pursue a career in science research.

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Lewis & Clark education is preparing you for those goals?

I plan on pursuing a M.D./Ph.D. to ultimately become an independent investigator who conducts research in neuroscience and practices clinical medicine. More specifically, I hope to work at a medical center applying tools of molecular neuroscience to understand fundamental cellular processes germane to healthy and diseased neuronal physiology. The intellectually challenging courses and emphasis on undergraduate research at Lewis & Clark provided me with skills necessary to accomplish my goals.

imageKeira Roberts ’15

Hometown: San Francisco, California
Major: Chemistry

What drew you to studying the sciences?

I have always been interested in figuring out how things work in the world around me. I loved chemistry and math in school, but it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to do laboratory research for the first time that I realized I had found my ideal career. I was completely engaged by the intellectual and rigorous atmosphere of the laboratory setting. My subsequent research experiences have served to cement my desire to pursue a career in research.

Do you work closely with faculty? What is that experience like?

I have been working with Associate Professor of Chemistry Anne Bentley for almost a year. Working with Professor Bentley has given me the opportunity to hone my laboratory skills with the help and feedback of a skilled mentor. I am given ample opportunity to try things on my own in the lab and get feedback about designing my own experiments. Working with Professor Bentley in the lab has helped me solidify concepts from class lectures and given me a base of knowledge that supports my future learning. I am very grateful to be in a school where I can have one-on-one mentoring; this is an exceptional opportunity for me to gain valuable (and fun!) research experience. Especially as a woman entering the male-dominated STEM fields, it is really helpful to have such a supportive female mentor. 

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Lewis & Clark education is preparing you for those goals?

I plan to attend graduate school after graduation. The opportunity to do research as an undergraduate is invaluable experience in preparing for graduate school. After getting my doctorate, I plan to do research with inorganic nanomaterials and eventually work to expand undergraduate access to research opportunities.

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