AUBURN – Emily Brennan, a junior in Auburn University’s College of Agriculture, has been chosen as a 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. The scholarship, given to only about 300 students nationwide each year, is widely considered the most prestigious award in the United States for undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
Brennan, an animal science major, conducts research in Professor Geoffrey Hill’s laboratory in the College of Sciences and Mathematics’ Department of Biological Sciences.
“I’m honored to receive the Goldwater Scholarship,” said Brennan, a native of Jacksonville, Fla. “When I came to Auburn, I had not planned to do research, but I really enjoy it. I hope to enroll in veterinary school and continue research there and in my career.”
Her research involves enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays on eggs collected from House Finch bird nests to test for antibodies to the bacterium, Mycoplasma gallisepticum. The goal is to determine the role of maternal effects – the ability of mothers to pass helpful substances to their offspring at birth – in the adaptation of House Finch populations.
Hill said, “It is a rare privilege to supervise an undergraduate student as bright, motivated and talented as Emily. She is doing graduate-level work as a junior, and will be leading a new project on gene expression in my lab this summer.”
Brennan has a 3.96 grade point average and is a member of the Auburn University Honors College. She is secretary of the College of Agriculture Ambassadors; president of the Auburn Rowing Club; and a member of the Auburn Undergraduates Committed to Veterinary Medical Bioscience Research and Training program.
“It was a pleasure assisting Emily with her Goldwater application,” said Paul Harris, associate director of the Honors College. “Though she has always been interested in science with the goal of becoming a veterinarian, it wasn’t until she became involved in Dr. Hill’s lab as a Cellular and Molecular Biosciences Undergraduate Research Scholar that she decided to combine research science with veterinary medicine.”
Auburn student Bianca Williams received honorable mention during the 2011 Goldwater Scholarship selection process, one of only 50 students nationwide to enjoy this distinction. Williams, under the direction of Assistant Professor Elizabeth Lipke in the Department of Chemical Engineering, conducts research on heart repair and lost or damaged cardiac cells. She investigates hydrogel-based microcarrier design for directing and facilitating the differentiation of stem cells into cardiomyocytes.
She is one of 20 students to receive an Auburn Undergraduate Research Fellowship. She tutors for Auburn’s AT&T Minority Engineering Program and is treasurer and national convention chairperson for the National Society of Black Engineers.