Drew Blauth BA ’23 Wins Goldwater Scholarship
by David Oehler BA ’14
Drew Blauth BA ’23 is the recipient of a 2022 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships for undergraduates who show exceptional promise as researchers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Blauth is the 21st Lewis & Clark student to receive the award since 2006.
“Lewis & Clark nominates top STEM students who go up against other undergraduates from R1 schools like CalTech, MIT, and Stanford,” says Louis Kuo, professor of chemistry and the Goldwater advisor on campus. “So receiving this award says something important about L&C and about Drew.”
Blauth, a chemistry and mathematics double major from Redlands, California, is particularly interested in computational chemistry. In his research, he uses modeling and advanced data analysis to look at data sets collected through chemical analysis.
Blauth identified his interest in the sciences and math early on. “Both my parents teach biology,” he says. “It was pretty obvious to me that I was good at the way of thinking that benefits STEM professions.”
A turning point for Blauth and his conception of scientific research came during his first year at Lewis & Clark. “My partner and I had prepared a biofuel in the general chemistry lab. We were going to do an analysis on it, but a bunch of mold had grown on it. I thought, ‘This is terrible. It’s a giant mess.’ But the professor kind of shrugged it off. That was a pivotal moment in my experience–I learned that when you have results, you work with them, but when you don’t, you move on.”
It was during his time as a research assistant to Professor Kuo that Blauth found his focus. “I was working to design catalysts that are capable of oxidizing sulfides, making the combustion of fossil fuels less toxic to the environment, so it releases fewer pollutants. Once I was into research, gaining experience, I thought, ‘I really like this. I want to continue doing this.’”
Although he is still pondering his options, Blauth says his overall goal is to earn a PhD in computational chemistry. His plan is to conduct atmospheric and environmental chemical research by using computational modeling and data processing.
This summer, Blauth will visit the University of Southern California, where he will be working on chemical applications for capturing and using solar and electrical energy. He acknowledges that it’s “a very different direction” than his previous research, but the projects are linked by a focus on sustainability.
“I think that sustainability is a very important, growing field,” says Blauth. “Getting involved with it early is a really smart plan to help people in the future.”