Three MSU students receive prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

Last week three MSU undergraduate students were awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, providing them up to $7,500 a year for tuition, fees, books and room and board. Students Brigit Noon, Riley Shearer and Anna Scott all applied for the scholarship in January and were notified of their achievements the first week of April.

The scholarship was created by Barry Goldwater in 1986. The goal of the scholarship, according to the official Goldwater website, was established “to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.” It is a publically endowed, nationally awarded scholastic scholarship.

Since its inception, over 7,428 scholarships valued at approximately 48 million dollars have been awarded. At MSU, a total of 64 students have received the Goldwater Scholarship.

Anna Scott, a sophomore majoring in chemistry, is the youngest of the three MSU recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship. In the summer of 2014 while working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, professor Joan Broderick emailed Scott informing her of the scholarship opportunity. “I never really thought about it before then,” Scott said. “It was definitely the nudge from Broderick that pushed me to apply.”


Scott mentioned how helpful the Honors College was during the application process. “I never felt like I was competing with my classmates. We all want to see each other succeed, and that’s an atmosphere I really enjoy.”


Scott’s research focuses on synthesizing an active site of iron hydrogenase, which is a catalyst to produce molecular hydrogen. The goal is to create molecular hydrogen, which would in turn be used as a clean, renewable source of energy. Scott expressed interest in continuing her higher education and professional work in the field of renewable energies but would love to end up working at a high level research university.

Riley Shearer is a junior at MSU studying chemical engineering, biochemistry, and economics, with a minor in mathematics. The idea of applying for the Goldwater scholarship first came to Shearer when his Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep) fraternity brother Matt Sherrick received the award during Shearer’s freshman year. Shearer is now the active president of the MSU Sig Ep chapter.

Originally from Oswego, Oregon, Shearer worked at the Oregon National Primate Research center where he first started exploring the world of diseases in monkeys. “That was a really interesting 10 weeks,” Shearer said. “The hands on experience got me really interested in the field.”

Shearer started his research with the assistance of Trevor Douglas, a former regent professor in biochemistry at MSU. The goal of his research is to make MRI machines more effective by altering proteins. “When a patient goes into an MRI, the operators can only see certain things on their monitors,” Shearer said. “If we insert certain metals into these protein cages … we can create more accurate and effective MRI results.”

He expressed interest in pursuing a Ph.D. and MD in health economics to research the effect social policy has on health and vice versa.

Junior Brigit Noon is a biochemistry major from Fairbanks, Alaska. Since Noon started her research as a freshman, the Goldwater Scholarship has always been in her sights. Dr. Josh Heinemann brought Noon on to assist in “the development of a microfluidics chip that could diffusively extract metabolites from biofluid samples in real time.”

In its current stage, the chip is now fully automated and can be directly interfaced with a mass spectrometer when being used to sample whole blood, urine and other cells.The chip is especially useful in the production of personalized medicine.

Noon plans on continuing her work in medicine and wants to pursue an MD and Ph.D. after MSU.

She described her dream job as one that allows her to “work in academic medicine in a mountain town and help with the development of really cool therapy techniques, particularly those that can be made accessible to people of all geographically regions and socioeconomic classes.”