All four Penn State Goldwater candidates earn scholarships

Sean Yoder
May 15, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — For just the second time in Penn State history, all four University candidates to the Goldwater Scholarship program were named as awardees.

Ananda Rankin, Anna Brogan, Gwen Oliver and Sojung Kim were awarded scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year, beating out thousands of other U.S. college students studying natural science, engineering and mathematics. All four study in the Eberly College of Science and are Schreyer Scholars in Schreyer Honors College.

The scholarship, named for statesman Barry Goldwater, is among the most competitive honors in the country for undergraduates in the STEM fields. Each year, 300 students across the U.S. are awarded $7,500 through the scholarship program.

Oliver, a rising senior, first applied for Goldwater during her sophomore year after working in the Cameron Lab under Craig Cameron. She continued her research under Cameron and also at an analytical chemistry lab with the Centers for Disease Control.

Gwen Oliver

Gwen Oliver is a rising senior and majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and minoring in statistics.

IMAGE: Submitted Photo

Oliver applied again during her junior year and her perseverance paid off. The State College, Pennsylvania, native is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and minoring in statistics.

“I was thrilled!” she wrote, on learning she earned a Goldwater nomination. “This scholarship will not only impact my life here at Penn State by lifting some financial burdens, it will also open doors in the future, especially as I apply to graduate school.”

Kim, also of State College, is a rising senior and chemistry major.

She began her undergraduate research during her first year at Penn State with the Mallouk Research Group under Thomas E. Mallouk. She said this allowed her to work on a variety of different chemistry research projects with different research groups over the years.

Sojung Kim

Sojung Kim is a rising senior and chemistry major.

IMAGE: Submitted Photo

“I’ve tried to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to develop my research skills and grow as a scientist by exposing myself to new kinds of chemistry, learning to collaborate and communicate with different people, and working in very different environments,” she wrote.

“I was really excited when I heard I had been named a Goldwater Scholar! Being named a scholar validates the hard work I’ve put into undergraduate research over the years, and makes me more confident in pursuing a chemistry research career.”

Brogan, of Glen Rock, New Jersey, said she has always loved chemistry and knew she wanted to pursue a career in science. The biochemistry and molecular biology major joined the Keiler Lab under Kenneth Keiler during the fall of her sophomore year.

Anna Brogan

Anna Brogan is a rising senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology.

IMAGE: Submitted Photo

“I was awarded the Erickson Discovery Grant to stay at school last summer following my sophomore year and work on my project, and staying that summer allowed me to be fully immersed in the lab, and made me realize that I truly do love research and want to pursue a career in it,” Brogan said.

The rising senior said she was honored to be among the accomplished students named as Goldwater Scholars and receive recognition for her hard work.

“Overall, I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing science mentors throughout my years here and great aid from the fellowships office during the application process.”

Rankin, of Clinton, Maryland, is a rising senior and microbiology and French major with a Francophone studies minor.

She said she decided to attend Penn State after being accepted to the Millennium Scholars Program and has since developed a love of microbiology. She started working under Squire Booker in the summer of 2017. Since then, she has conducted research at Columbia University and will work at Washington University in St. Louis this summer.

Ananda Rankin

Ananda Rankin is a rising senior and microbiology and French major with a Francophone studies minor.

IMAGE: Submitted Photo

“I was very surprised,” she said after learning she was named as a scholar. “I did not think that I would be selected among the hundreds of applicants but it feels good to see this recognition of my hard work. I am truly honored to have been named a Goldwater Scholar.”

Rankin credited her mentors and the fellowships office with helping her assemble a successful application.

Those interested in competing for a Goldwater Scholarship should contact the University Fellowships Office to learn more about the scholarship program, verify that they meet the eligibility criteria and begin the application process. Applicants must be U.S citizens, U.S. nationals or permanent residents in their sophomore or junior year. Applicants must submit a pre-application form and complete a full application during the fall semester to be considered for University endorsement. For more information on the application process, visit the office website.

Barry Morris Goldwater was born in Arizona in 1909, and by age 13 was already displaying intellectual aptitude when he set up the first commercial radio transmitter in the state. He also was a talented student and athlete before his academic career was cut short by the death of his father. He then delved into the family business, Goldwater’s Department Store, and worked his way to the CEO of the company.

He entered the military during World War II, even after being turned away for his age and athletic injuries, and eventually retired as a major general in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Goldwater stepped onto his political path in 1949, when he won a seat on the Phoenix City Council. He would later be elected as a senator for Arizona for five terms from 1953 to 1965 and 1969 to 1987. He died in 1998.

The first Goldwater Scholarships were awarded in 1989 through the Goldwater Foundation.

The University Fellowships Office is part of Penn State Office of Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undergrad.psu.edu. Sign up for UE Headlines for the latest news.

Last Updated June 21, 2019