Neuroscience major recognized for unique, multifaceted approach to education, research, and community service
By Stella Katsipoutis-Varkanis
Camille Carthy ’23, a neuroscience major with an English minor, is one of two Lafayette students to be awarded a competitive 2022 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, which aims to foster and encourage students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Carthy and fellow junior Samantha Ganser ’23 are among this year’s 417 scholars, selected from a pool of 1,242 nominees from 433 colleges and universities from across the U.S. Since 2000, at least one Lafayette student has either been named a Goldwater Scholar or received an honorable mention.
“The Goldwater Scholarship is a small but very prestigious indication of their impressive promise,” says Julia Goldberg, associate dean of advising and co-curricular programs at Lafayette. “I’m ecstatic to see both students recognized for their research accomplishments and future potential as leaders poised to make significant contributions in their respective disciplines. Both bring exciting and sorely needed multidisciplinary perspectives from the social sciences, humanities, and sciences to their research.”
Carthy’s passion for neuroscience was sparked during her high school years, when she first started studying the brain and spent a summer working as a research student alongside neuroscientists at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. Lafayette was Carthy’s top choice when the time came to apply to college, thanks to its neuroscience major offering. During her first year, Carthy discovered two additional academic interests: chemistry and English, which she blended together with her neuroscience major to create a rich, multifaceted undergraduate educational experience.
As her connection with the Chemistry Department grew after she took several introductory courses and worked as a supplemental instructor with Rebecca Miller, visiting assistant professor, Carthy was eventually introduced to Melissa Galloway, associate professor, with whom Carthy teamed up to conduct research on atmospheric aerosol chemistry. Their study—in which Carthy utilized her learnings in chemistry to analyze the formation of brown carbon compounds and their contribution to climate change effects, and her learnings in neuroscience to investigate how those environmental factors impact overall human health—was the focal point of Carthy’s Goldwater Scholarship application.
“Society tends to emphasize how individual behaviors affect health, often obscuring larger environmental, social, and economic factors,” Carthy says. “Calling these factors outside of human behavior into consideration can be powerful in how we frame health. And on the chemistry side, if we can identify how reactions and product structures contribute to climate change, then we can pass that foundational information along to the next team of expert scientists.”
Carthy extends many thanks to Prof. Galloway and Dean Goldberg for supporting her throughout the Goldwater Scholarship application process.
“Dr. Galloway took the time to read my essay and answer all of my questions. She was supportive from the first day that I walked into her office and mentioned the scholarship. That imbued me with the confidence to apply,” Carthy says. “Dean Goldberg also was extremely helpful in the editing process. I learned a lot from her feedback and about the rigor required to write a competitive application. By the end of the application process, I was able to better articulate my career goals and reflect on common values throughout my academic experiences.”
“Camille has amassed an impressively amazing and diverse set of research experiences that will serve her well as an aspiring M.D./Ph.D.,” Goldberg adds. “She is exceedingly accomplished, thoughtful, and thorough; you can count on her to push the research agenda.”
Carthy explains that the writing skills she’s honed from her English minor also helped put her Goldwater Scholarship application on the judges’ maps.
“My English minor is a crucial part of my identity at Lafayette and my identity as a scientist,” she says. “It emphasizes how important communication is within the sciences and the danger of what happens when scientific knowledge that’s very much fluid is translated into the popular media. I love the diversity in thought I’ve gained through my English coursework and the skills I’ve developed to be critical of rhetoric surrounding health and medicine.”
A leader serving the College’s Landis Center for Community Engagement, a co-founder of LafKid Connect (a program that pairs Lafayette student mentors with Easton middle schoolers), and the director of food justice for the Pre-Orientation Service Program at Lafayette, Carthy says that her community involvement—hand in hand with her interdisciplinary education—also was crucial to her growth and success as a scholar.
“Community engagement helps me build empathy, awareness, and intentionality with everything that I do,” she says. “It’s built my communication skills, and I am continually learning from and influenced by the people I’ve met through my service.”
“When not in the classroom or lab, both Camille and [fellow Goldwater Scholar] Samantha are heavily committed to meaningful and productive public service and will continue to do so throughout their lives,” Goldberg adds. “Their intellectual curiosity is deeply intertwined with their desire to improve the lives of others.”
As a Goldwater Scholar, Carthy—who hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. degree, and eventually a career in research and clinical care—will receive $7,500 toward tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year, and she will join a community of prominent scientists and scholars who received the award in the past.
“My primary emotion is gratitude,” she says. “The Goldwater Scholarship has further motivated me to continue to pursue research and enhanced my confidence that I can contribute to the world of science. The opportunity to network within the community of enthusiastic Goldwater Scholars and learn about their diverse research interests and innovative methodologies is a humbling experience. I’m also appreciative of the additional funding toward my senior year. I’m very grateful to have received the award and for the support of all the mentors I have found at Lafayette.”
Carthy spent the spring semester studying abroad in Seville, Spain, and conducting neuroscientific research on spontaneous eyeblink in mice as it relates to sensory integration, which can be an important metric in neurodevelopmental disorders. This summer, she will be participating in an undergraduate research program at University of Pennsylvania. In the past, Carthy also participated in a similar program at Medical University of South Carolina, where she studied natural and drug reward-seeking in mice using optogenetics and calcium imaging.
Read about the accomplishments of other Lafayette scholarship recipients.