April 15, 2022
ATLANTA – Stamps Scholars Amanda Calhoun (Dartmouth College), Jasmine Kiley (Tulane University), Matt Knerr (University of Mississippi), Kat Lasonde (Dartmouth), Bernadette Miao (University of Chicago), Edward Tang (United States Military Academy, West Point), Jenna Travers (University of Oregon), and Aidan Wright (West Point) have been awarded 2022 Barry Goldwater Scholarships. They join 26 Stamps Scholars who have previously received the scholarship.
Named in honor of U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, the scholarship encourages outstanding undergraduate sophomores and juniors to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.
Stamps Scholar Amanda Calhoun, from Newport Beach, California, began conducting research at the start of her time at Dartmouth College. Freshman year, Calhoun (who is majoring in chemistry and Earth sciences modified with biology) joined Professor Justin Strauss’ lab, where she currently studies stromatolites, the oldest fossils on Earth. She focuses on the relationship between their morphology, which may have profound implications for the evolution of early life and associated environmental change, and different environmental and biological parameters. This project served as her introduction to geobiology, the unifying theme of her undergraduate career. On campus, she serves on the Executive Board for the Dartmouth Undergraduate Research Association, which helps students find research opportunities. She is also a mentor for younger students through the Women in Science Project and has served as a group tutor for an Earth sciences course. During an internship at the Johnston and Pearson labs at Harvard University, she transitioned to thinking about isotope records and how these can inform constructions of past environments on a variety of timescales. Her current project involves the analysis of carbon isotopes ratios of archaeal biomarkers to reconstruct past carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. She plans to use the Goldwater Scholarship to continue her work in geobiology and biogeochemistry into graduate school to enhance our understanding of Earth’s biogeochemical processes.
“The Stamps Scholarship provided me with the flexibility to pursue meaningful research and explore different topics throughout the course of my undergraduate degree,” said Amanda Calhoun. “I was able to purchase materials for experiments and fully fund a research internship during which I obtained findings that I will be presenting at geobiology conferences.”
Stamps Scholar Jasmine Kiley, who is from Rochester, New York, has spent her first years at Tulane University conducting research in the Biomechanics of Growth and Remodeling Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. Kristin S. Miller. Specifically, Kiley investigates the ways that vaginal tissue remodels with increasing maternal age and throughout pregnancy. She is majoring in biochemistry and minoring in public health. She served as a supplemental instructor for “Intro to Cell and Molecular Biology”, senior tutor for After School Newcomb Tutoring, and vice president of finance for the Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity. She also plays violin in the Tulane Symphony Orchestra and swims on the club team. Additionally, she is on a team of students working to develop a home-use diagnostic test for endometriosis. As a freshman Stamps Scholar, she presented her research at the 2021 Stamps Scholars Symposium. Since then, she has also presented at the 2021 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting with the support of her enrichment funds. She plans to use the Goldwater Scholarship to attend future conferences and fund her senior honors thesis project, which will focus on the mechanics of female reproductive tissue as it remodels throughout pregnancy.
“The Stamps Scholarship offers a network and financial freedom that enables me to pursue virtually any applicable opportunity that arises,” said Jasmine Kiley. “With the support of the Stamps Scholarship, I am empowered to take risks that often lead to forming connections with people that will last into my career as a physician scientist.”
Stamps Scholar Matt Knerr is from Paducah, Kentucky and is a junior at the University of Mississippi, majoring in biochemistry. In addition to receiving the Goldwater Scholarship, Knerr has recently been awarded the Ole Miss Honors College Barksdale Award, funding two months of independent research in southern Italy, and recently entered the University of Mississippi Hall of Fame. He has conducted research in four labs and with the Black Earth Institute in Wisconsin, yielding four publications. Outside of research, he is president of Hill Country Roots, an environmental group that he has led in developing the first student-run tree farm in Mississippi. He applied for the Goldwater Scholarship because of his interest in the biochemistry of aging and in the potential to improve health outcomes in elderly patients. During his time abroad in the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Spain, he observed different cultural interactions with the elderly and realized that medical approaches to the problems caused by aging must be considered through a humanistic and biomedical lens. The conversations in which he has engaged with fellow Stamps Scholars at Ole Miss and throughout the country have led him to think critically and grow as a researcher and a leader.
“I foresee myself conducting research that aims to improve wound healing in the future,” said Matt Knerr. “The Stamps Scholarship was instrumental in eliciting my interest in aging.”
When Kat Lasonde, who is from Wilmette, Illinois, first came to Dartmouth College, she had no understanding of coding, engineering, or quantum physics. By chance, she was matched to conduct research in quantum computing in Professor James Daniel Whitfield’s group through Dartmouth’s Women in Science Program. In the group, she learned the fundamentals of quantum computing, began a few coding projects, and published a paper in the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science. She now is majoring in engineering with a minor in computer science. During this time, she was also awarded the DE Shaw Discovery Fellowship and the University of Waterloo Institute for Quantum Computing USEQIP Fellowship. She applied to the Stamps Scholarship to fund research in the development of a quantum sensing system. She was also able to fund a trip to the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, visit the quantum computing graduate program at the Delft University of Technology, and broaden her dream of being a researcher more than she ever could have imagined. The Goldwater Scholarship has allowed her to stop working campus jobs, and instead fully pursue her research. She has also already made a few connections to Ph.D. students in quantum engineering programs across the U.S.
Lasonde said, “The Stamps Scholars Program has given me the ability to research exactly what I am passionate about, and fund the means to do so, as components for quantum computers are not cheap.”
University of Chicago Stamps Scholar Bernadette Miao is from Western Springs, Illinois and is majoring in chemistry and biological chemistry. Miao serves as a Chemistry College Core Tutor, a STEM outreach volunteer at Argonne National Lab, and a student marshal. She was also selected to be the General Chemistry Lab intern. She helped transition the labs to virtual work because of Covid-19. She is also engaged in science and medicine mentoring and teaching as a community mentor for UChicago’s Summer Session, a volunteer for Med-ucate, and a teaching assistant for Northwestern University’s Summer Program. In Bozhi Tian’s lab, she investigated the subcellular dynamics of cardiac cells and developed nanomaterials. By engaging in research and learning the positive impact of medical therapeutics, she grew interested in biology-guided and inspired research, culminating in her first-author Nanoscale Horizons review paper. With funding from the Stamps Scholarship, she has presented research at regional and national conferences. She recently joined Professor Savas Tay’s lab to broaden her understanding of how to investigate systems at the single-cell and subcellular level. In the future, she hopes to use this understanding to develop medical therapeutics as a physician-scientist. With her plan to pursue a M.D./Ph.D. the Goldwater Scholarship helped solidify her interest in pursuing a career at the interface of research and medicine.
“As a Stamps Scholar, I am able to explore my interest in investigating biological systems at the single-cell and subcellular level and engage in STEM teaching and volunteer outreach,” said Miao. “The Stamps Scholarship enables and encourages me to grow as a scientific researcher through engaging in experiential learning and contributing to my community.”
West Point Cadet Edward Tang is a computer science major from Palo Alto, California. As a Stamps Scholar, Tang worked with nanomaterial synthesis in West Point’s Multifunctional Materials Laboratory, creating lightweight, conductive, and energy-storing materials for use in lightweight batteries and biosensors. He has since expanded this work to contribute to a conductive biofiber project that won first place among over 80 teams from the service academies in the Warfighter Innovation in Science and Engineering competition in 2021. His current research endeavors involve using machine learning algorithms as a design tool to better inform regenerative medicine and tissue engineering research, thus reducing the expensive time and resource costs associated with iterative design processes. He has presented his work at numerous conferences and has multiple pending peer-reviewed publications. Additionally, he is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi and Upsilon Pi Epsilon computing and information honor societies. At West Point, he serves as a squad leader and is a member of the Cadet Competitive Cyber Team. He hopes to continue his research while using his experience in both cybersecurity and medicine to promote cybersecurity in the medical field through policy and technical avenues.
“The Stamps Scholarship has been extremely influential in providing me with the funds to pursue my research and academic goals through opportunities to both work in collaborator labs and present my work in conferences,” said Edward Tang. “I am truly privileged to be among such a supportive community of bright, like-minded scholars.”
At the University of Oregon, Stamps Scholar Jenna Travers works as a research assistant in the Glacier Lab, studying the effects of glacier retreat on salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest and the resulting societal impacts on local communities. Travers is a marine biology major with minors in science communication, geography, and legal studies. At the end of this term, she will defend her thesis on risk framing of dual climate emergencies. She plans to continue her research on science communication and fisheries management in the future by pursuing a Ph.D. This summer, she’ll be in the field, researching and measuring glacier retreat in the North Cascades. She will also be studying abroad in Panama, researching ecological relationships in mangrove communities at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. On campus, she is the president and founder of UO’s Women in STEM club, a finance senator on the Associated Students of the University of Oregon student senate, and a biology tutor for ecology and evolution classes. She currently works as a writer for GlacierHub and as a salmon identification contractor with the Wild Salmon Center. She plans to use the Goldwater Scholarship to fund her summer fieldwork position in the North Cascades and also to go to conferences to present her research on risk framing of dual climate emergencies.
“The Stamps Scholarship has been pivotal in allowing me to focus on research, make connections in my field, and explore different areas of research,” said Jenna Travers. “Without it, I would not have been able to take on some of the research positions that ultimately convinced me to pursue a career in research and fieldwork.”
West Point Cadet Aidan Wright is a chemistry major and intends to go to medical school following graduation. Wright calls Farmington, Maine home. She is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the president of the West Point Pre-Medical Society, and the cadet in charge of the American Chemical Society Student Club at West Point. She also sings in the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Choir and is on the West Point judo team. Last semester, she served as a platoon sergeant in company F4, and she currently serves as the AS1 for fourth regiment at USMA. She is studying the effectiveness of small molecule countermeasures against amyloid-beta protein aggregation, which is associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. She is leading a project studying small molecule countermeasures against other biotoxins in addition to protein aggregates. With her research group she has published five papers, including one in which she was a co-first author. She has presented her research at conferences including the 2021 and 2022 Biophysical Society Annual Meeting and the 2022 International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease. This summer, she will intern at the Centre for Misfolding Diseases at the University of Cambridge with her research collaborators. She hopes to contribute as much as she can through her research during her time at West Point and aspires to continue research throughout medical school. Her hope is to become a physician in the U.S. Army and care for the military community she grew up in.
Wright said, “Being a recipient of the Stamps Scholarship has made many amazing opportunities available and I am extremely grateful for the unique experiences the Stamps scholarship has allowed me to pursue.”
These Scholars join a legacy of excellence. In addition to 26 previous Goldwater Scholars, Stamps Scholarship alumni include Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Harry S. Truman Scholars, Churchill Scholars, and Knight-Hennessy Scholars, among other recipients of national scholarships.
About the Stamps Scholars Program
The Stamps Scholars Program was founded by E. Roe Stamps and his late wife Penny in 2006, with the purpose of enabling extraordinary educational experiences for extraordinary students. Through partnerships with institutions across the nation (and into the U.K.), Scholars receive annual awards that range from $5,400 to $75,000 (four-year awards total an average of $21,600-$300,000) with additional funds for enrichment activities such as study abroad, academic conferences, and leadership training. The Stamps Scholars Program and partner schools evenly share the costs of the award.
For more information, contact
Director of Communication and Scholar Experience