Andy Pelos ’19 and Sal Fu ’19 have each been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which provides $7,500 per year for educational expenses to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering. Biology major Abby Lewis ’19 and chemistry major Cris Woroch ’19 received honorable mentions.
The Goldwater Foundation looks for intellectually curious students who have potential to make significant future contributions to their respective fields. Out of 1,280 mathematics, engineering and science majors who were nominated from across the country, 211 scholarships were awarded.
Andy Pelos ’19, a molecular biology and gender & women’s studies double major, from Oakland, California, is planning a career in research – in academia or industry – to better understand and counteract processes of neurodegeneration. Up until now, Pelos has been specifically interested in Alzheimer’s Disease, but he says, “I also want to work to mobilize structures of scientific research as sites of political activism and advocate for better representation of and support for queer scientists.”
Pelos finds himself interested in almost every scientific field and project that he’s been involved in. For three summers, starting right after high school, Pelos has interned at NASA Ames Research Center in both the Laboratory for Advanced Sensing and in the Space Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP).
At Pomona, Pelos has worked in Professor Karen Parfitt’s lab since his first semester, studying spatial memory, synaptic plasticity and long-term potentiation in Alzheimer’s model mice.
Pelos plans look at the contributions of microglia, cells that comprise the immune system of the central nervous system, to shaping synaptic connections in the brain (‘synaptic pruning’) and contributing to the early pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Pelos thanks Parfitt who has encouraged him along the way: “There is absolutely no way I would ever have even considered myself eligible for something like the Goldwater without her.”
Sal Fu ’19, a physics major on the astronomy track from San Ramon, California, plans to attend graduate school to conduct astrophysics research. “Having conducted a lot of my research using archival survey data, I am fascinated by the doors that past large-scale surveys have opened, and future large-scale surveys will open, for investigating pertinent questions in astrophysics subfields spanning the full range of scales: from cosmology, to galaxy evolution, to stellar populations, to planetary science,” says Fu. “I eventually hope to be able to drive the science of future generations through designing and facilitating large-scale astrophysics collaborations and projects.”
For the past two summers, Fu has conducted research at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. Her research has focused on studying the various ancient satellites of the Milky Way using survey data.
Fu’s latest project focuses on locating and characterizing one of such streams around the galaxy. She is currently in the process of writing a paper based on her research results which she plans to submit for publication.
Most recently, Fu went to Las Campanas Observatories, in the Atacama Desert of Chile, on an observing run, where she was able to get a first-hand experience collecting and processing data.
Fu thanks Professor Philip Choi, who connected her to the Carnegie Observatories and “who has been an invaluable source of mentorship, support and encouragement especially during my earlier times here, when I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to, or if I was suited to, doing astrophysics.” Fu also thanks Professor Jorge Moreno for his mentorship.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program is a federally endowed agency established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.