Three Juniors Honored by Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program

Ryan Augustin, a junior majoring in biochemistry at St. Thomas, has been awarded a 2013-14 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. Elizabeth Annoni, and Mark Painter, both juniors, were named honorable mentions.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.), who had served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

This year the program awarded 271 scholarships for the 2013-14 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States.

Dr. Kyle Zimmer, associate professor of biology who is St. Thomas’ Goldwater program chair, said, “The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program is a national competition that is extremely competitive, so it's a real honor for these three students to be awarded scholarships and honorable mention.”

Augustin, an Eagan, Minn., native, is analyzing the promoter regions of the Rap1 genes, related to the Ras oncogene. He also has begun studying the cell-type specific expression of the Rap1 genes in various human cell types, comparing the expression regulation of these genes in both “normal” and cancerous cells. After he graduates, he plans to research in the field of cancer biology through either an M.D. or an M.D./Ph.D. program.

Annoni, an electrical engineering and physics major from White Bear Lake, Minn., said, “I am interested in automating medical diagnostics, especially pertaining to image acquisition and processing.” After graduation she plans to attend graduate school for biomedical engineering. “From there, I hope to be part of a research and development team in the medical industry,” she said.

Painter, a biology major from Rochester, Minn., has worked at the Mayo Clinic investigating the role of PD-1, a protein expressed on the surface of cells involved in T-cell interactions of the immune system, in ovarian cancer; currently, he works at St. Thomas to characterize the core promoter for the Rap1B gene and describe the regulation of Rap1B gene expression. His plans include research on “cancer immunology at the cellular level − looking at how cancers evade the immune system and how the immune system can be primed to respond specifically to growing tumors, pursuing a Ph.D. in immunology/cell biology and perform research in this field for a short time after receiving my doctorate,” and continuing his research while teaching as a university professor, he said.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,107 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. A total of 176 of the scholars are men, 95 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Twenty-seven scholars are mathematics majors, 159 are science and related majors, 71 are majoring in engineering, and 14 are computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines.

The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Recent Goldwater scholars have been awarded 80 Rhodes Scholarships, 118 Marshall Awards, 110 Churchill Scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships. Since 1998, 21 St. Thomas students (including Augustin) have received Goldwater Scholarships.

Since 1989, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has awarded 6,550 scholarships worth approximately $40 million.

For more information about the Goldwater Scholarships, contact Zimmer (651) 962-5244.