Mercer has produced Goldwater Scholars in four consecutive years, an unusual accomplishment for an institution with Mercer's size of undergraduate student body.
The one- and two-year scholarships, awarded to undergraduate sophomores and juniors, cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious postgraduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 86 Rhodes Scholarships, 125 Marshall Awards, 134 Churchill Scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.
Aaron Featherston, who graduated in May 2014, received a 2012-2013 scholarship based on 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 biochemistry and molecular biology major from Byron, Featherston earned the scholarship to continue his research with Dr. David Goode, associate professor of chemistry. In the lab, Featherston, who was admitted to Yale’s Ph.D. program in biochemistry, worked toward the synthesis of a natural product isolated from a sea sponge that may one day serve as the basis for a new class of antibiotics.
Kirsten Brown, who graduated in May 2016, received a 2013-2014 scholarship based on academic merit from a field of 1,166 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.
Brown, from Tallahassee, Florida, plans to attend a graduate school with a strong biochemical research program. She participated in a 2014 summer research experience at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee to perform molecular dynamics simulations. She was selected as an honorable mention for a presentation at the Herty Medalist Undergraduate Research Symposium in the fall, and she performed undergraduate research at Mercer with Dr. Garland Crawford as part of the Mercer Undergraduate Biomedical Scholar (MUBS) Training Initiative.
Kaydren Orcutt, a senior from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, received a 2014-2015 scholarship based on academic merit from a field of 1,206 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.
Orcutt, who is majoring in chemistry and Spanish, works in the lab of Dr. Kathryn Kloepper, where she utilizes analytical chemistry to investigate better ways to clean up oil spills. Specifically, this research pertains to biosurfactants, which are naturally produced, soap-like molecules that enable water and oils to mix. Orcutt plans to obtain a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry and conduct bioanalytical research and teach at the university level. She was a recipient of the 2014 Best Analytical Poster Award at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), as well as University awards for Outstanding General Chemistry Student 2013-2014 and Outstanding General Physics Student 2014-2015. She has also presented her research at the 2014 Herty Medalist Undergraduate Research Symposium at Morehouse College and 2014 Breakthroughs in Engagement, Arts and Research (BEAR) Day at Mercer.
Zechariah Rice, a junior from Newberry, Florida, received a 2015-2016 scholarship based on academic merit from a field of 1,150 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.
Rice, who is majoring in electrical engineering and minoring in Christianity and computer science, works in the lab of Dr. Makhin Thitsa, where he has derived the nonlinear feedback control law for controlling a passively Q-switched pulsed laser system. Rice plans to obtain a Ph.D. in electrical engineering with a focus in non-linear controls. He hopes to conduct research and teach at the university level. Rice received a Presidential Scholarship and Engineering Scholarship to Mercer, in addition to an athletic scholarship to join the football team. He is the University’s first engineering student and second student-athlete to earn recognition from the Goldwater Foundation.
The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on Nov. 14, 1986. The scholarship program, honoring Senator Barry Goldwater, was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. Since its first award in 1989, the Foundation has bestowed 7,680 scholarships worth approximately $48 million.