Skip to content
Campus Life

Rochester sets institutional record with four Goldwater Scholars

From left, newly named Barry Goldwater Scholars Derek Chien ’25, Kathleen Hall ’24, Margaret Scholer ’24, and Hope Silva ’24 were selected for the prestigious national scholarship based on their past accomplishments and future promise as researchers in STEM fields.

Winners of the prestigious national award pursue research careers in science, mathematics, and engineering.

Four University of Rochester students—Derek Chien ’25, Kathleen (Katie) Hall ’24, Margaret (Maggie) Scholer ’24, and Hope Silva ’24—have been selected as Barry Goldwater Scholars, marking the first time Rochester has had four recipients in a single year.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 in honor of the former US senator and presidential candidate. Its goal is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

Each scholar receives up to $7,500 to help cover tuition, room and board, books, and mandatory fees. Scholars who receive the award as sophomores receive support for a maximum of two years, while juniors receive support for one year.

Institutions are typically allowed to nominate only four students, notes Belinda Redden, director of fellowships at Rochester. An additional nominee is allowed only if the nominee arrived at an institution as a transfer student. The four recipients were among 413 students chosen from a pool of more than 5,000 college sophomores and juniors across the US.

“It is wonderful to see the continuity in the depth of our student-researcher talent pool in STEM fields,” Redden says. “The type of student who would be competitive for the Goldwater is not only academically excellent but also highly engaged in pursuits such as research, peer teaching and mentoring, club and organizational leadership, service activities, and other extracurriculars such as athletics and the arts.”

Redden says that, over the past 24 years, 46 Rochester undergraduates have been named Goldwater Scholars—and there has been only one year during this period when no Rochester students were selected.

“I am extremely proud of this year’s quartet of scholars for this recognition of their excellence and promise as research scientists who are passionately committed to lending their talents to solve urgent problems facing humanity and the planet,” Redden says. “I get to see the competition results shortly before the announcement is public, and it was thrilling to see ‘scholar’ four times on our list of nominees.”

  • Derek Chien ’25

    A chemistry and bioethics double major from Reno, Nevada, Chien has worked with the Fasan Lab since his first year at Rochester. He engineers and utilizes enzymes to synthesize chiral building blocks for medicinal chemistry applications. He previously worked at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center through its Summer Undergraduate Research Program. A Rochester Early Medical Scholar, he began his research training in a chemistry lab at the University of Nevada-Reno. Chien is business manager for the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) and the Asian American Student Union (AASU). He aspires to be an academic physician, teaching the next generation of clinicians and conducting translational research to integrate findings into the clinic. Chien is part of the inaugural cohort of Beckman Scholars Program and will spend part of this summer working in the Franco Group doing molecular simulations on self-assembly.

  • Kathleen (Katie) Hall ’24

    An environmental science major from Rhinebeck, New York, Hall is project lead on a geologic methane project in Vasilii Petrenko’s Ice Core and Atmospheric Chemistry Lab. In addition to her work in the lab on data analysis, she has been a field leader on three different occasions participating in field campaigns across Appalachia, Michigan, Colorado, and New Mexico. She has been a teaching assistant in courses related to climate change and geographic information systems and holds the presidency of the Society of Earth and Environmental Science Students (SEESS) and the vice presidency of Sustainability through Engineering (SE). Hall has presented her findings on multiple occasions at the American Geophysical Union Fall Conference. This summer, she’ll work as a researcher in the NASA Student Airborne Research Program in Norfolk, Virginia as well as continuing some of her work on methane emissions at the University of Rochester. Hall aspires to be a climate scientist with research focused on understanding the atmospheric methane budget and climate feedback mechanisms.

    Margaret (Maggie) Scholer ’24

    A double major in chemistry and environmental science from Pittsford, a suburb of Rochester, Scholer also works in the Ice Core and Atmospheric Chemistry Lab. She studies geologic methane microseepage across the United States, focusing on Colorado and New Mexico. She also previously worked in Chiara Borrelli’s paleoceanography lab. A teaching assistant for courses in both chemistry and environmental sciences, Scholer is also publicity chair and head of tutoring for the Undergraduate Chemistry Society and has served as an EcoRep and content editor for the Journal for Undergraduate Research. She is currently studying abroad in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she is an intern at the Water and Wildlife Habitat Trust. She’ll spend the summer doing research in the Petrenko Group for her chemistry senior thesis project. Scholer intends to study anthropogenic climate change and possible solutions and earn a PhD in atmospheric chemistry.

  • Hope Silva ’24

    The chemistry major from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania has been working in The Barnett Group since January 2022, with research focused on utilizing materials for perfluorocarbon capture applications. In 2021, she completed an NSF-funded REU in the Frontiers in the Chemistry of Materials Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the University of Texas-Austin. She received the Dean Marvin Fellowship from the Department of Chemistry to support her research in Barnett’s lab last summer. Silva has been a workshop leader for organic and inorganic chemistry, a volunteer tutor with the Undergraduate Chemistry Society, and a resident advisor. She’ll spend this summer working in the Barnett Group on independent projects and starting her senior thesis.  She plans to earn a PhD in chemistry and become a research scientist in industry working on environmental issues at the interface of chemistry and materials science.

Kara Bren, chair of the Department of Chemistry and the Richard S. Eisenberg Professor of Chemistry in the School of Arts & Sciences, says she is “thrilled” that three of Rochester’s four Goldwater recipients are chemistry majors.

“Derek, Maggie, and Hope represent the best of undergraduate scholarship at Rochester,” she says. “This speaks to the excellence of our chemistry students, and our program more broadly, and it makes us very proud.”

Hall and Scholer also major in environmental science. John Kessler, chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, says both have performed “near perfectly” in the classroom while simultaneously conducting superb research.

“I’m extremely proud of what Katie and Maggie have been able to achieve, because it speaks volumes about their dedication and raw abilities in geoscience research,” Kessler says. “It underscores the commitment of the EES department to integrate meaningful research opportunities with our teaching.”

Read more

Truman Scholar Arocho from chest up, in white shirt and jacket, standing against brick and concrete building facade.Andrés Arocho González to receive Truman Scholarship

Andrés Arocho González ’24, a political science major from Puerto Rico, has been selected to receive a Truman Scholarship—the premier scholarship for aspiring public service leaders in the United States.

Awad in a white lab coat and blue gloves stands in a lab full of equipment.Laith Awad ’24 receives Obama-sponsored Voyager Scholarship

A first-generation college student and accomplished leader and scholar, Awad aims to combat systemic racism and socioeconomic disparities within health care.

Headshot of Rhodes Scholar smiling, in white shirt and blue jacket.Kudzai Mbinda ’22 named Rhodes Scholar

The chemical engineering major from Harare, Zimbabwe will pursue a master’s degree in energy systems at Oxford University, with the goal of helping develop Zimbabwe’s industrial sector.


Return to the top of the page