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3 WKU students named Goldwater Scholars; 4th earns honorable mention

3 WKU students named Goldwater Scholars; 4th earns honorable mention

Since 2006, WKU has led the state in recognition by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. This year, WKU placed among the top producers of Goldwater Scholars in the nation.

WKU's latest Goldwater Scholars with their faculty mentors are (clockwise from top left): Charles "Chadd" Coomer, Michael Crocker, Clarice Esch and honorable mention Lukas Missik. (WKU photos by Clinton Lewis)

Charles “Chadd” Coomer, a biology and chemistry double-major from Louisville; Michael Crocker, a second-year student in the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science from Bowling Green; and Clarice Esch, an agriculture major from Somerset, received scholarships to continue original research.

Lukas Missik, also a second-year student in the Gatton Academy from Danville, received an Honorable Mention in the national competition. Universities may nominate up to four students each year.

The students’ success stems from the emphasis placed on undergraduate research at WKU and in the Gatton Academy. Goldwater Scholars are selected based on their academic performance and potential for a research career.

“These students should be commended for demonstrating their future potential effectively through their outstanding research essays and research productivity to date,” said Dr. Kevin Williams, Goldwater faculty representative and associate professor of chemistry.

Each of the students worked closely with their mentors and the Office of Scholar Development to develop cogent applications, submitting numerous drafts over the course of several weeks. “The faculty who have effectively mentored these students in research and the classroom should be applauded for their efforts,” Dr. Williams said.

Established by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to recognize the former senator from Arizona, the scholarship program identifies and honors students who excel in and are pursuing research careers in the sciences, mathematics and engineering. Winners receive $7,500 annually with which they can pay for undergraduate tuition, fees, books and room and board.

WKU is one of 24 institutions where each scholar nominated was recognized by the program. Out of more than 1,100 applicants nationwide, only 282 were selected as scholars and fewer than 200 others received Honorable Mention recognition.

WKU President Gary A. Ransdell commended the students on their willingness to take on ambitious research projects.

“The success these students demonstrate through this recognition shows what can happen when you pair excellent students with a caring, wonderful faculty and the support system available at WKU,” he said. “This is a tribute to their hard work and determination and the guidance and support of their faculty mentors.”

Charles “Chadd” Coomer

Coomer, a junior in the Honors College at WKU and the son of Evell and Don Coomer, has been involved in microbiological research for two years. In the lab of Dr. Rodney King, associate professor of biology, Coomer is characterizing viruses that infect bacterial cells so that they can be sorted into different clusters. Before beginning his research, he was enrolled the Genome Discovery and Exploration Course at WKU, a part of the National Genomics Research Initiative, where he first worked with Dr. King.

Charles “Chadd” Coomer of Louisville and Dr. Rodney King (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

“I instantly became drawn to microbiology research from this experience and decided to quickly find a professor involved in microbial sciences,” he said. “I would like to thank Dr. King for the immense amount of support, encouragement and instruction he has given me. I would also like to thank Dr. Audra Jennings from the Office of Scholar Development for helping me refine my Goldwater Application.”

“I’m very pleased that Charles has been awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. This is an impressive achievement for which he should be very proud,” Dr. King said. “I first became aware of Charles’ potential for research in the Genome Discovery and Exploration Program at WKU, where he demonstrated self-motivation, inquisitiveness and a great work ethic. His future is bright.”

“I felt grateful and ecstatic when I heard the news,” Coomer said after celebrating with fellow recipient Clarice Esch. “This success has solidified my plans to pursue a Ph.D in microbiology or virology.”

Michael Crocker

Crocker is in his fourth semester of research at WKU through his participation in the Gatton Academy. In the labs of Dr. Jeremy Maddox, assistant professor of chemistry, and Dr. Lester Pesterfield, professor of chemistry, Crocker is working with microscopic silica gels to create a more effective, inexpensive and thorough way to treat industrial waste.

Dr. Jeremy Maddox, Michael Crocker of Bowling Green and Dr. Lester Pesterfield (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

The son of Patricia and Scott Crocker, Michael was informed of his success while at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

“I woke up to find that I had a missed call from Derick Strode, the assistant director for academic services at the Gatton Academy,” he said. “He told me the news when I called him back and then I shared the good news with my family before meeting up with one of my resear

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 Last Modified 3/6/17