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Goldwater Scholarships Give Young Scientists a Career Boost

Jenni Isaac and Annalee Tutterow
(l-r) Jenni Isaac '16 and Annalee Tutterow '17, 2015 winners of Goldwater Scholarships.

Davidson students Annalee Tutterow '17 and Jenni Isaac '16 have received Goldwater Scholarships, an undergraduate award founded by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to promote students' interests in scientific research.

Professor of Chemistry Erland Stevens, the campus representative for the Goldwater program, said, "It's one of the very few national scholarships at the undergraduate level, and the only large one in the sciences. If you are applying to graduate school in the sciences and you're a Goldwater winner, graduate schools know you are serious about the sciences, you probably have a lot of research experience and someone else has found you very deserving."

Although the scholarship includes a monetary prize, Stevens added, "What's really going to help these students out is their research experience with their Goldwater mentors. The scholarship is just recognition of that."

Tutterow and Isaac already have significant research experience, and both plan to eventually pursue doctoral degrees.

As a first-year student, Tutterow got involved in research at Davidson with projects in the herpetology lab, including long-term mark-recapture studies of the diamondback terrapin and the spotted salamander.

Her current research project focuses on the threatened bog turtle. Tutterow is working on calculating survival probabilities for different bog turtle populations in North Carolina, and this summer, through funding from a Davidson Research Initiative, will be studying site-specific factors that could be impacting the turtles' survival. Her work will culminate in papers submitted to peer-reviewed scientific journals. Ultimately, she hopes her findings will help managers of bog turtle sites make informed decisions.

Isaac's thesis research could have implications in the search for a cure for Alzheimer's disease. She is working to determine whether the brain remains able to support memory when certain neural pathways are eliminated/removed/knocked out. She said the project excites her because of the potential opportunity to help so many people.

"Alzheimer's disease is a big problem that so many people face. Just being able to do this kind of research at an undergraduate institution makes me really excited about what comes next in terms of grad school and other research opportunities," she said.

Tutterow said she is grateful to the Goldwater administrators for recognizing and promoting her dreams. "It will establish me in the scientific community, and help me show I'm not just someone who's here for a short-term period. I want to continue down this path."