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Frank Cortazar ’07, Matthew Coughlin ’07, Michael Elzinga ’07, and Jordan Tirrell ’08 have achieved national distinction as recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship. Awarded for academic merit, the Goldwater is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering.

Cortazar (Miami, Fla.) is a Marquis Scholar majoring in biochemistry and two-time Patriot League all-star baseball player. Coughlin (Boyertown, Pa.) is a Trustee Scholar majoring in chemistry. Elzinga (St. Paul, Minn.) is a Marquis Scholar pursuing two degrees, a B.S. mechanical engineering and A.B. with a major in physics. Tirrell (West Grove, Pa.) is a mathematics major.

Lafayette is No. 1 among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges a in the number of Goldwater Scholarships in the last five years, with 13. It’s the second time in the last four years that Lafayette has had all four of its Goldwater nominees accepted.

Cortazar plans to pursue an M.D. and Ph.D. in biochemistry. He hopes to conduct research in an academic hospital to make advancements in the understanding and treatment of cancer at the molecular level. He did research on the protein DNA photolyase as an EXCEL Scholar working with Yvonne Gindt, assistant professor of chemistry.

Coughlin plans to pursue a doctorate in organic chemistry and would like to conduct research in the development of biologically important molecules using enantioselective reactions. In a project related to nanobiotechnology, he has been looking at the effect of carbon nanotubes on the oligomeric structure of proteins as an EXCEL research assistant to Tina Huang, assistant professor of chemistry. In an earlier project with Huang, Coughlin did research on the presence of glutamate, an amino acid, in enzymes.

Elzinga plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomechanics or biomedical engineering. He would like to begin his career conducting research at a major orthopedics company, then start his own engineering firm specializing in design of advanced prosthetics. As an EXCEL Scholar working with Steve Nesbit, associate professor of mechanical engineering, he analyzed the biomechanics of elite sprinters with the hope of designing exercise equipment that will exercise these athletes in the most optimal way.

Tirrell plans to pursue a doctorate in mathematics. His goal is to conduct research and teach math at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He probed math’s perfect cuboid problem with the guidance of Cliff Reiter, professor of mathematics, as a participant in the Research Experience for Undergraduates program conducted by Lafayette and funded by the National Science Foundation. He made a presentation on the research in January at AMS-MAA-SIAM Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio.

The Goldwater award will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 next academic year. These students are the latest in a long list of recent Lafayette recipients of prestigious national and international scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and post-graduate study. For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, associate dean of studies, (610) 330-5521. See also the latest edition of Aristeia, which showcases the achievements and reflections of outstanding current and recent Lafayette students who represent the growing number of students at the College pursuing both academic excellence and engagement with civic life and social justice.

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. This year 323 scholarships were awarded for the 2006-07 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,081 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

“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 63 Rhodes Scholarships (5 of the 42 awarded in the United States in 2006), 80 Marshall Awards (8 of the 40 awarded in the United States in 2006), and numerous other distinguished fellowships.”

Lafayette’s Goldwater recipients:


Katie Thoren ’06 (Hebron, Conn.), chemistry


Megan Coyer ’05, B.S. neuroscience
LeAnn Dourte ’05, B.S. mechanical engineering
Ryan Waite ’05, B.S. mechanical engineering (honorable mention)


Alison Campbell ’04, B.S. biochemistry
Gabriella Engelhart ’05, B.S. chemical engineering
Elizabeth Ponder ’04, B.S. biochemistry/A.B. cultural biomedicine
Meghan Ramsey ’04, B.S. in neuroscience


Daniel Ruddy ’03,B.S. chemistry
Alyssa Picchini ’04, B.S. neuroscience


Daniel Swarr ’03, B.S. physics/A.B. mathematics


Matthew Patton ’02, B.S. computer science

Categorized in: Academic News