For junior biology majors Chloe Lawyer and Kia Johnson, it’s natural to spend time in the science lab.
Junior biology major Chloe Lawyer works with professor Kurt Illig in a neurobiology lab. (Josie Oliver/TommieMedia)
“My life pretty much revolves around the lab and school,” Lawyer said. “I work really hard and I work outside of here too. It’s been kind of a long journey but it’s been good.”
Both Lawyer and Johnson were recognized for their academic achievements when they were nominated by St. Thomas faculty for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Both were awarded the scholarship after a rigorous application process and were described as “outstanding” students by professors they work closely with.
“(Chloe) is an outstanding student. She is really involved in the lab,” assistant biology professor Kurt Illig said. “And those are the kind of people who are typically awarded fellowships.”
Johnson said she was “really happy” to receive the scholarship.
“I feel extremely blessed especially knowing that there are many other candidates who were just as worthy as me of receiving the scholarship,” Johnson said.
The Goldwater Scholarship was established in 1986 honoring Sen. Barry M. Goldwater. The scholarship is awarded to qualified students pursuing careers in science, mathematics and engineering.
Lawyer and Johnson were two of many students nationally who received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. Universities are allowed to nominate four students for the scholarship and then the national committee makes the final decisions.
Involvement with research experiments is a key component the scholarship committee looks for when awarding applicants. Lawyer started working with Illig in the neurobiology lab in 2010 and has been working with him ever since.
“I work with him all through the summer as well,” Lawyer said. “We are looking at basically how developmental changes in dopamine affect learning.”
Chemistry professor Thomas Ippoliti said that Johnson has also been involved with research experiments, and he encouraged her to apply for the scholarship.
“She did research with me last summer and did an outstanding job synthesizing a novel compound with biomedical applications,” Ippoliti said. “She is an excellent communicator and did an awesome job explaining her poster at the end of the summer.”
Johnson and Lawyer both plan to use the scholarship money towards tuition and their education. After graduation, both students plan to attend graduate school. Johnson plans to receive her Ph.D. in physiology, and Lawyer plans to receive her Ph.D. in neuroscience.
Josie Oliver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.