Gustavus Adolphus College junior Katie Aney is the recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award for students pursuing careers in mathematics, sciences, and engineering.
Nearly 1,300 talented students are nominated annually by campus representatives from 2,000 colleges and universities across the country. Of the group, only 240 undergraduates are selected each year for the prestigious award. Recent Goldwater Scholars have gone on to receive other top-tier academic awards including 89 Rhodes Scholarships, 127 Marshall Awards, 145 Churchill Scholarships, 96 Hertz Fellowships, and numerous other distinguished awards like the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.
“It’s an incredible award that I am honored to accept.” Aney said. “It is humbling to think of level of support I’ve received from Gustavus and the depth of gratitude I owe to the many mentors that have helped me throughout my academic journey.”
Aney, who holds a perfect 4.0 grade point average with majors in biochemistry and mathematics, will spend the summer conducting research at Harvard University through the Amgen Scholars Program. During her 10-week research program, the Rochester, Minn. native will work under Dr. Stephanie Dougan of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on a project centering on immunology and pancreatic cancer.
“Immunology is a big field in cancer research right now,” Aney said. “The project explores how we can find ways to use the body’s immune system to fight cancer instead of relying on some of the older, more traditional methods. Specifically, my role will be in generating fluorescent versions of pancreatic cancer cell lines to use for future experiments and imaging.”
Throughout the Amgen Scholars program, Aney will conduct hands-on, innovative research using novel methods to detect immune responses to tumors in mice. In addition, she will join Harvard’s other Amgen Scholars for intellectual pre-professional development, including a National Amgen Scholars Research Symposium at UCLA.
“Katie’s research internship at Harvard this summer will provide her with the opportunity to further immerse herself in high impact research in a way that will be incredibly valuable for her future career in biomedical research,” Gustavus biology professor Laura Burrack said. “As a researcher in my laboratory and during her summer internship at the Mayo Clinic last summer, she has taken intellectual ownership of her projects in a way that is truly remarkable.”
Outside of the classroom and lab, Aney is involved at Gustavus as a key contributor on the Gustavus women’s tennis team, the Student Athlete Advisory Council, and Tri-Beta honor society vice president. She’s also dedicated time to the Mayo Clinic Volunteer Program, presented at the Midstates Consortium for Math and Science Conference, assisted in publishing a paper on concussion risks in youth hockey players, and completed a Mayo Clinic Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship focusing on neuroblastoma cancer.
“My academics are very important to me and at Gustavus, I’ve definitely received a world-class education.” Aney said. “But Gustavus has also really helped me become well-rounded. Through balancing academics, athletics, and social activities, I feel like I’ve truly experienced what it means to be a ‘Gustie.’ This balance is supported by the Gustavus faculty members, who make each student feel like they are a priority, foster our passions, and strive to help us achieve our dreams.”
“The first time I met Katie, I was struck by her genuine curiosity, intelligence and desire to learn. All of my interactions with her over the past two years have confirmed these initial impressions,” Burrack added. “In the classroom, Katie is inquisitive, analytical, and a leader in small group work.”
And with the Goldwater Scholarship and Amgen Scholar experience as an undergrad, the sky is the limit for the well-rounded Gustie.
“Graduate school is definitely the next step for me.” Aney said. “I’m very interested in clinical cancer research, backed by intrinsic motivation and life experiences, but I suppose the honest answer is that I’m still figuring things out. Two things that will never be a waste of time are loving and learning and my vocation will lie where these meet. I enjoy the challenge and creativity required from science courses, but I’m also trying to live with love and kindness and enjoy the rest of my time at Gustavus. I just want to be the best teammate, friend and person that I can possibly be.”
For more information about the Gustavus Fellowships Office and the support it gives to students, please visit the fellowship website.