Kilner Goldwater Scholar, Chen-Liaw Honorable Mention
Science & Tech Editor
Juniors Chris Kilner and Alice Chen-Liaw earned a Goldwater Scholarship and a Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, respectively, this month. The pair of biochemistry, cell and molecular biology majors joined approximately 530 people to receive either the scholarship or an honorable mention.
The Goldwater Scholarship seeks to “provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields,” according to The Barry Goldwater Scholarship Foundation’s website. The foundation considers undergraduate students whose achievements demonstrate promise for meaningful contributions to their chosen field of research. The application process began last year, with four applicants from The University submitting applications.
Kilner currently performs research with Kathleen Dwyer, Ph.D., at The University. The pair conduct research on the interesting self-compatibility of Arabidopsis thaliana. Whereas other species of the genus cannot self-fertilize, a phenomenon known as self-incompatibility, Arabidopsis thaliana can self-fertilize.
Meanwhile, Chen-Liaw works with George Gomez, Ph.D., investigating lipid metabolism in hepatocytes. Chen-Liaw began her work on the hepatocytes during a summer internship at Rutgers University, and she continues her work on the cells at The University.
Both Kilner and Chen-Liaw cite the guidance of Mary Engel, Ph.D., and the help of the other applicants from The University. At the “Inaugural Goldwater Bootcamp,” as the two affectionately called their proofreading-filled Martin Luther King Jr. Day during intersession, the four Goldwater Scholarship applicants revised each other’s applications. With Engel’s supervision, the applicants gave critical advice in what Kilner described as a “blast of editing for several hours.” Additionally, Engel invited previous Goldwater Scholars and applicants, including Maria Gubbiotti, who graduated from The University in 2011.
In his application, Kilner proposed looking into the phylogeny of invasive mosquito species in Costa Rica. He noted that shifting agricultural practices in the country have led to the establishment of monocultures of few crops that may allow the mosquitos to prosper. Kilner proposed reintroducing more diverse phylogeny to inhibit the spread of invasive mosquitos.
In her application, Chen-Liaw proposed to investigate agents such as glucagon-like-one peptide analogs, that bypass the insulin pathway. Specifically, this could entail treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and insulin resistance, which has implications in Type II diabetes, obesity and insulin resistance.
Typically, applicants intend to pursue graduate studies to earn doctorate degrees, but Kilner and Chen-Liaw have additional educational aspirations. Both Kilner and Chen-Liaw intend to follow their research interests in the degrees that they intend to pursue. Kilner intends to pursue a J.D. / Ph.D. in environment and natural resources with a focus on conservational biology and sustainable development, in which he intends to apply his research-based scientific knowledge to conservational techniques. Meanwhile, Chen-Liaw intends to carry out an academic research as post-baccalaureate researcher before applying to M.D. / Ph.D. programs to complete a Ph.D. in cell biology along with a medical degree.