McGorty named Goldwater Scholar

Ryan McGorty, a junior Physics and Journalism major in Commonwealth College, last month was among 310 Goldwater Scholars selected nationally. Only 14 students in Massachusetts received the scholarships.

The students were selected on their academic merit by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation from a field of 1,113 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by their colleges and universities. The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

“I became a Physics major after working in a research lab,” said McGorty. “I like doing research. I find it interesting and challenging. There is a lot of breadth to the field of physics I do research in, soft condensed matter.”

McGorty’s proposal was titled “Encapsulating Living Cells” and describes a process for encapsulating living bacteria to create an ideal micron-sized environment. The process, developed by assistant professor Anthony Dinsmore, could be used in the fields of medicine and food science. According to McGorty, “Encapsulation promises to improve transplants to treat diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, hemophilia, and Parkinson’s disease.”

Psychology professor Susan Whitbourne, the campus’s Goldwater Scholar faculty representative and director of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement, said that with McGorty’s achievement also comes recognition of the strength of the University’s programs in engineering, science, and mathematics. “These communities work hard to identify potential candidates through a rigorous screening process. Ryan is one of four Goldwater Scholars in the last six years.”

Whitbourne also lauded the individual efforts of faculty members who wrote letters of recommendation for potential Goldwater nominees. “It really helps when faculty speak on behalf of the students. Recommending a student takes a lot of time and work. ONSA and our students are very appreciative of the faculty’s efforts.”

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency, established in 1986, to honor former Sen. Barry M. Goldwater and to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.