The College is celebrating all things related to STEM throughout 2022 during the Barnard Year of Science. And because of their remarkable achievements, students and alumnae are a part of the celebration as they are recognized for their research, lab work, and other scientific pursuits. “Barnard has a legacy of securing prestigious STEM grants for students and alum,” says Dana Muñiz Pacheco, associate director of fellowships for Beyond Barnard. “This has been possible in part due to programs that provide our students with opportunities to develop their research skills throughout their undergraduate career [in ways] that will open further opportunities beyond their time at Barnard.”
One standout scholar is Jenna Everard ’23, a computer science and environmental biology major who won a 2022 Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious undergraduate awards for STEM students. The scholarship is given by the Goldwater Foundation, a federally endowed agency, to support students who are pursuing research careers in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Everard, who was selected from a pool of 1,245 nominated sophomores and juniors for a class of 417 Goldwater Scholars, is the first Barnard recipient since the 2017-18 academic year.
“Despite the closure of Barnard’s campus, and many laboratories, when she was in the second semester of her freshman year, Jenna sought to begin gaining research experience, albeit remotely. She showcases determination, scientific curiosity, and authentic enjoyment of research, which was evident in our conversations throughout the application process,” says Pacheco, who worked with Everard on multiple aspects of her Goldwater application.
The scholarship offers up to $7,500 in funding for students who want to pursue a career in research. Everard intends to use her scholarship toward her senior year Barnard tuition. “With the money that this will save, it gives me more flexibility such that I could consider taking a year to continue working on research prior to beginning my Ph.D.,” said Everard, who is already pursuing her geochemistry research at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and presented at the American Geophysical Union’s fall conference last December.
There are many other exciting STEM opportunities happening for Barnard alumnae as well. Seven were chosen to receive the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program grant (known as NSF GRFP). It is a five-year fellowship that includes three years of financial support — with an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution — for graduate students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.
Over the years, Barnard students have had great success as recipients of this prestigious fellowship. “With a total of 19 recipients over the past four years, we can confidently say that our students leave equipped with the tools to connect their interests and research agendas to the public knowledge and making science accessible, which is central to the mission of the National Science Foundation,” says Pacheco.
This year’s recipients are:
Amber Chong ’21
A sociology major who minored in history and was in the Urban Teaching Program at Barnard, Chong is now at UCLA working on her Ph.D. in anthropology. She will use the grant money to fund her fieldwork, which this summer includes doing research at a taro farm on Kauai, Hawai’i.
“I am interested in the ways that land and food appear in how [we] imagine sovereignty, citizenship, and belonging.”
Melissa Flores ’16
A psychology major and biology and chemistry double minor, Flores was interested in neuropharmacology and understanding behavior as an undergraduate. She is now getting her Ph.D. in the Neuroscience Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, I will be working with honey bees using neurogenomics, computational analyses, and CRISPR/Cas9 to further our understanding of honey bee social behaviors, particularly aggression and thermoregulation of the colony.”
Jenny Lam ’18
As a chemistry major, Jenny Lam's research interest was sugar chemistry, from the synthesis of C-acyl glycosides as a first-year to her senior thesis which focused on the synthesis of N-arylated 2-amino sugars for glycodiversification studies. She is now continuing her research in the PhD program for chemistry at New York University.
"I will use the grant money towards the development of new cysteine conjugation methods using platinum and gold, to facilitate the production of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs)."
Oluwaseyi Olojo ’18
As an environmental policy major at Barnard, Olojo spent most of her time thinking about climate vulnerability indices and how researchers could better predict which communities would be most vulnerable to climate disasters. At UC Berkeley, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in information science and studying proxies and algorithms specific to online behavioral advertising. She’ll use her GRFP to explore the emotional impacts of health-related ad targeting on individuals with stigmatized health identities.
“How does datafication complicate what it means to be human? In [answering] this, I use a lot of postcolonial environmental studies and critical geography theories as a lens for understanding how technology negatively impacts vulnerable communities.”
Sam Ross ’21
At Barnard, Ross majored in computer science on the Intelligent Systems track and minored in economics. She also conducted research in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) with Columbia’s assistant professor of computer science Lydia Chilton. In the fall, she will start her Ph.D. at the University of Washington.
“The NSF graduate fellowship will fund my research at the University of Washington, where I am excited to continue working on HCI research.”
Zoe Webb-Mack ’21
Currently the Post-Baccalaureate Fellow at Barnard’s Vagelos Computational Science Center, Webb-Mack, who was a physics major at the College, is working on projects that include creating a syllabus for a feminist physics course, as well as physics research. In the fall, she will begin the physics Ph.D. program at Duke University.
“The NSF GRFP fellowship gives me a little more freedom to do the research I want to do. This is exciting, because my research interests — situated between particle physics and quantum computing — are interdisciplinary in nature, so I’m hoping to use the funding to do work at this intersection. I hope having a little more flexibility will allow me to pursue pedagogical projects aimed at improving inclusion in physics, which is still a very white and male-dominated discipline, even among STEM disciplines.”
Shoshana Williams ’20
While at Barnard as a chemistry major, Williams worked all four years in Diana T. and P. Roy Vagelos Professor of Chemistry Rachel Narehood Austin’s lab, where her research focused on elucidating the structure and function of an enzyme involved in the global carbon cycle. She is now in the Ph.D. program for chemistry at Stanford University.
“I will use the grant money to continue my current project, through which I am working to develop a novel class of antibiotics to combat the growing global crisis of antimicrobial resistance.”