Women Excel in Math and Science

Two Goldwater Scholars and an Udall Scholar

Two Goldwater Scholars

Erin Currie ‘07, a double major in biochemistry and biology, and Jessica Minnier ‘07, a math major, have both received 2006 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships. They are two of 323 students nationwide to receive the $7,500 award. Since 1995, more than a dozen Lewis & Clark students have received Goldwaters.

Erin Currie hails from Seattle and came to Lewis & Clark to pursue a double major in Hispanic studies and theatre. But after taking introductory science courses and participating in an overseas study program to East Africa (which had a field biology focus), she settled on science. She now does research with worms (C. elegans) under the guidance of Greg Hermann, assistant professor of biology. “We’re looking to publish three professional papers, and I’ll be the primary author of one of them, all because of his mentorship and guidance.”

Currie is still active in theatre–she acts on stage and managed the theatre department’s costume shop for a year. She is also a member of the Pamplin Society of Fellows. But her true passion is research. “I love science, and I truly look forward to doing research as a career,” says Currie. “The Goldwater Scholarship is confirmation that somebody out there believes in me.”

When Jessica Minnier graduated from high school in Ventura, California, she was considering a major in English or psychology. But she soon realized she couldn’t imagine going four years without taking math classes. “I’d much rather spend all day doing math homework than writing papers,” says Minnier. “I appreciate the solidity of mathematics in that answers and proofs can be shown to be right or wrong without being influenced by opinion.”

In addition to her studies, Minnier represents the mathematical sciences department on the Student Academic Affairs Board. She also works at the Math Skills Center as a tutor several hours a week and volunteers for the Cascade AIDS Foundation, among other organizations.

“I was extremely honored to receive the Goldwater Scholarship,” says Minnier. “It highlights what an excellent math department we have at Lewis & Clark, and it shows that all my hard work is paying off. The award gives me confidence and reminds me that I’m not the only one who believes I can succeed.”

Udall Scholar

Sasha Stortz ‘07, a biology major from Sitka, Alaska, has been named a 2006 Morris K. Udall scholar. She is one of 80 students nationwide to receive the $5,000 award. It is the fifth Udall for Lewis & Clark and the second for Stortz.

Stortz, who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa this spring, is active in many academic and community projects at Lewis & Clark. Over the summer, she’s working with Paulette Bierzychudek, Swindells Professor of Natural Sciences, on research to conserve the endangered Oregon Silverspot butterfly. During the academic year, she’s active in the Amnesty International student group and plays classical violin in the orchestra. Last fall, she participated in an overseas study program to Kenya and Tanzania, where she studied biology and community-based conservation.

According to Stortz, the goal of her biology work is to balance human, land, and resource needs with conservation ecology. “I’d also like to develop my skills in mediation and community decision-making through collaborative leadership training,” Stortz said. She hopes to attend graduate school in fisheries or conservation biology and sustainable development.