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Two Lafayette students have achieved national distinction as recipients of prestigious Goldwater Scholarships. Awarded for academic merit, the Goldwater is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering.

The recipients are Megan Coyer (Slippery Rock, Pa.) a junior Marquis Scholar majoring in neuroscience, and LeAnn Dourte (Lebanon, Pa.), a junior Marquis Scholar majoring in mechanical engineering. Their Goldwater awards will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 next academic year.

Ryan Waite (Lebanon, Pa.), a junior Marquis Scholar majoring in mechanical engineering, received honorable mention.

Lafayette students have received 10 Goldwater Scholarships in the last five years, a success rate that reflects the College’s national reputation for academic excellence and standing among America’s top institutions.Lafayette is No. 1 among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges in the number of Goldwaters in the last three years, with eight.

Established by Congress in 1986, the scholarship program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.

“Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs,” says Peggy Goldwater Clay, chair of the Goldwater Foundation. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 56 Rhodes Scholarships (6 of the 32 awarded in the United States this year), 66 Marshall Awards (6 of the 40 awarded in the United States this year), and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

Last year Lafayette was among only a dozen colleges and universities in the nation to have all four of its Goldwater nominees accepted. They are Alison Campbell ’04 (West Chester, Pa.), a Trustee Scholarship recipient majoring in biochemistry; Gabriella Engelhart ’05 (York, Pa.), a Marquis Scholar majoring in chemical engineering; Elizabeth Ponder ’04 (Collegeville, Pa.), a Marquis Scholar majoring in biochemistry with a second, individualized major in cultural biomedicine; and Meghan Ramsey ’04 (originally Malvern, Pa., now Lakeville, Minn.), a Trustee Scholarship recipient majoring in neuroscience.

In 2002, two Lafayette students received Goldwaters, Daniel Ruddy ’03 (Dunmore, Pa.), a Marquis Scholar who went on to graduate summa cum laude with honors in chemistry; and Alyssa Picchini ’04 (York, Pa.), a Trustee Scholarship recipient majoring in neuroscience.

In 2001, Lafayette’s recipient was Marquis Scholar Daniel Swarr ’03 (Clifton Park, N.Y.), who went on to graduate summa cum laude with a B.S. in physics and A.B. in mathematics.

In 2000, Matthew Patton ’02 (Los Alamos, N.Mex.), received the scholarship, going on to graduate summa cum laude with honors in computer science, a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa, among other honors.

Coyer intends to pursue an M.D. or Ph.D. in neuroscience and conduct research that benefits both the scientific and medical communities. For a year she has done research on the behavior of zebra finches as EXCEL research assistant to Wendy L. Hill, Rappolt Professor in Neuroscience. In Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, students assist faculty with research while earning a stipend. Lafayette is a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate in EXCEL each year go on to publish papers in scholarly journals and/or present their research at conferences.

In the summer following her first year at Lafayette she worked with Jay M. Weiss ’62, Jenny C. Adams Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University, in his neurobehavior laboratory, one of five students who conducted cutting-edge research with leaders in the neuroscience field through the Lafayette Alumni Research Network.

“It was a wonderful experience,” says Coyer, who was invited this spring to join Phi Beta Kappa. “I worked in the lab full-time, assisting with small-animal surgery and other clinical research. I learned all kinds of different techniques.”

Dourte intends to pursue an Ph.D. in biomechanics or bioengineering. She would like to conduct research or work in the health-care field, designing medical devices or consulting with doctors concerning the mechanics of the human body. She also plans to teach at the university level and conduct advanced research.

Last fall, under the direction of Robert Reid, visiting assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, Dourte used the ANSYS computer-modeling program and advice from medical experts to potentially aid in correcting a hip condition called slipped capital femoral epiphysis. The independent project grew out of EXCEL research she had done with Reid the previous summer.

“I enjoy using my mechanical engineering knowledge for medical purposes, since it enables me to directly affect someone’s life in a positive way,” she says. “This research opportunity has helped me make this decision and continues to inspire me to pursue a field of engineering related to health care.” She was invited this spring to join Phi Beta Kappa.

Waite plans to pursue a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering and work with NASA in space-defense research and development. He would also like to teach at the undergraduate level while conducting research.

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