Third-years win Goldwater Scholarship for scientific achievements

Two students in the College have been awarded prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships for academic merit in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering. Ryan McGillicuddy and Anne Marsden were recommended by members of the UChicago faculty as some of the top students in the country in chemistry and mathematics.

“This scholarship is a great validation of the work I’ve done, and it encourages me to continue to pursue a career in science,” McGillicuddy said.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields, and will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year. A total of 283 students from colleges and universities nationwide were awarded Goldwater Scholarships this year. 

Marsden said that in addition to the monetary benefits, winning the Goldwater will open opportunities for her to progress in her field. The third-year student of chemistry and mathematics, from Salt Lake City, Utah, plans to pursue a PhD in chemistry and conduct research in physical chemistry. 

“I want to help get students excited about math and science,” she said. “I love helping people understand something they were confused about—usually they don’t like it in the beginning, but by the time they understand it, they realize how cool and fun it is.”

Marsden earned the Lillian Gertrude Selz Prize in 2012, given to the top first-year woman in the College.

Since 2012, she has been conducting research with R. Stephen Berry, the James Franck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, on Gallium clusters, and has several publications in the works based on the results. Berry joined Laurie Butler, professor of chemistry, and Robert Soare, professor of mathematics and computer science, in recommending Marsden for the scholarship.

Marsden’s other activities on campus include editing the student science journal, The Triple Helix, volunteering at the University of Chicago Medicine and running on the cross country and track and field teams. She plans to spend the summer doing physical chemistry research at Cambridge through a Third Year International Travel Grant.

McGillicuddy, a third-year chemistry student originally from Buffalo, N.Y., plans to pursue a PhD in chemistry and conduct research in physical chemistry. He is also a violinist in the University of Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

McGillicuddy currently works as a research assistant with Prof. Greg Engel’s Research Group, where his research on charge and energy migration in conjugated polymers contributed to a publication in the Journal of Chemical Physics. He was nominated for the Goldwater Scholarship by Laurie Butler, professor of chemistry, and by David Biron, assistant professor of physics.  

He is a recipient of the James Franck Institute Summer Research Grant, and plans to spend the summer 2014 conducting research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong through the Metcalf internship program. 

Since 2005, 25 UChicago students have received Goldwater Scholarships, and five others have received honorable mentions.