Students nominated for the Goldwater – La Merciade scholarship

Last week, Mercyhurst announced the nomination of two students for the National Goldwater Scholarship. The nominees are junior environmental science student Erin Smith and sophomore biology student Collin Olson.

The Goldwater Scholarship is a national award given to undergraduate students, especially those in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Various college institutions across the country can nominate students who are in these fields and who wish to pursue research-oriented careers.

Mercyhurst has not nominated students for this award in several years, so this year the honors department and Rajinikanth Mohan, Ph.D., professor of biology and campus representative for this particular scholarship, came together to create a list of potential students.

They ultimately chose Smith and Olson as the two Mercyhurst students whose names and research would be submitted for the National Goldwater Fellowship.

Looking closer at the two nominees, it’s clear that they both display the kind of talent and drive that Mercyhurst instills in students and enables them to achieve impressive goals and accomplishments while studying at the undergraduate level.

Smith is a junior with a major in environmental science, but the focus of her project goes hand-in-hand with her minor in geology. Smith was nominated for the award by Nick Lang, Ph.D., professor of geology, because of her previous research on water filtration.

Smith’s research in this area has previously been published in a newsletter for the Geology and Health Division, and Smith was able to present his project at a Geological Society of America conference in October 2019.

This fellowship nomination is just one more step on her journey to a career in environmental engineering and sustainability, where Smith hopes to earn a master’s degree and eventually her doctorate.

In a separate but equally vigorous biology major, Olson drew inspiration from a class project assessing soil samples in the community of Erie to assess pollution levels. From this project stems his own individual research which revolves around the study of the fluorescence capacities of Pseudomonas bacteria.

Olson notes that he finds this research particularly interesting in the hope that it could help pathologists identify infections in patients. Since Mohan was the professor who worked with the initial group project that sparked Olson’s research, he was the faculty member who nominated him for the scholarship. Olson has also expressed interest in earning a doctorate. in his future.

Both Smith and Olson expressed their extreme gratitude to the two professors who helped them along the way and to Mercyhurst’s overall programming and student-centered atmosphere.

Olson specifically mentioned professors such as Mohan, Michael Foulk, Ph.D. from the Department of Biology, and Ronald Brown, Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry as “some of the most genuine and hardworking people on campus”.

Olson said these professors are “natural mentors who spark students’ interest, which makes the transition to research a lot easier.”

Along the same lines, Smith recognized the unique range of courses offered in the environmental science program, with courses including natural sciences, public health and even economics.

Closing, Smith said, “I may be biased, but I think I’ve had some of the most supportive teachers since day one at Mercyhurst.”

If you see one of these two students, be sure to congratulate them on their nomination!

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