Two students selected as Goldwater Scholars

two students standing, in side-by-side photos
Erin Fish, left, and Shea Siwik were selected to receive scholarships from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. 
Image credit - Valerie Wojciechowski

Two Grand Valley students received scholarship money from the nationally competitive Goldwater Scholars program.

Erin Fish and Shea Siwik, both juniors who are majoring in biochemistry, each earned $7,500 from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. 

Goldwater Scholars (496 chosen nationally this year from a pool of 5,000 students) are nominated by faculty members, have strong academic and research backgrounds and will likely enroll in graduate schools. The last time Grand Valley students were selected as Goldwater Scholars was in 2012.

Fish, from Allen Park, was also selected in 2018 for the Beckman Scholars Program. A national program operated by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, Grand Valley's Beckman Scholars received stipends to conduct research projects with faculty mentors. Through this summer, Fish will conclude her Beckman research with Brad Wallar, professor of chemistry, of characterizing enzyme structures and looking for antibacterial inhibitors. 

Fish is a student ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship and gives classroom presentations on what it means to be a student researcher at Grand Valley. She plans to pursue a M.D./Ph.D program, and Wallar said he has confidence in her future success.

"This challenging pathway is not suitable for everyone but Erin has all the motivation, abilities and stamina to thrive in such a program," he said.

Siwik, from Portage, works in the research lab of Paul Cook, associate professor of chemistry, characterizing enzymes involved in the production of a compound called bacillithiol, which several disease-causing bacteria use to destroy certain antibiotics. Siwik will spend the summer at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as part of the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. 

Cook said he has confidence that Siwik will achieve her plan to earn a doctoral degree in biochemistry and then teach at a research university.

"Shea stood out to me as a great candidate for the Goldwater Scholarship," Cook said. "She has done great work in my lab, and she is another example of the extraordinary research students we have at Grand Valley.”

Named in honor of former Sen. Barry Goldwater, Goldwater Scholars often earn prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 92 Rhodes Scholarships, 137 Marshall Awards, 159 Churchill Scholarships, 104 Hertz Fellowships, and numerous other distinguished awards like the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.


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