The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Lafayette students awarded Fulbright, Goldwater scholarships

Seven students received honorable Fulbright and Goldwater awards this year. Carter Brand ’25 could not be reached for a photo. (Photos by Liv Bamford ’24 and Emma Sylvester ’25 for The Lafayette; bottom middle photo courtesy of Tess Stanley ’25).

Every year, Lafayette students earn awards from the country’s most prestigious scholarships and fellowships. This year, four students joined the growing list of Lafayette’s Fulbright scholars and three students were awarded Goldwater scholarship.

Fulbright scholars

In the next six months, Fulbright scholarship winners Johnathan Cresson ’24, Evaline Bearce ’24, Mariama Bah ’24 and Elias Podber ’24 will be found in various corners of the globe, funded by the educational grant to pursue academic or professional work after graduation.

After a transformative summer studying Portuguese in Brazil, Bah immediately knew where she would send her Fulbright application. Now, Bah is making plans to return to the same city and even live with the same host family.

“I really felt connected to that part of the world, mainly because of its connection with African ancestry,” Bah said. “It felt like a home away from home.”

Working with an anthropology professor at a local university, Bah will continue her thesis work, combining her engineering studies and international affairs double major to investigate land rights of indigenous communities in the Brazilian city of Salvador.

“I’m excited to be going back and continuing this work that I’m very passionate and interested in,” she said.

Bearce was inspired to apply for the Fulbright program after a semester abroad in Germany.

“I really felt like the idea of being able to live outside of the U.S. would give me a lot of knowledge that I would never really be obliged otherwise,” Bearce said.

In Germany, Bearce will work as an English teaching assistant where she hopes to fully immerse herself in the culture and be involved in the community. As a civil engineering major with a minor in German, Bearce is also excited to improve her language skills while getting the chance to explore more of Germany’s infrastructure.

“I definitely think it will help me with civil engineering by seeing more of how they approach engineering difficulties around the world,” Bearce said.

Cresson and Podber will travel to Austria for their Fulbright experiences.

Cresson, receiving a mechanical engineer and German dual degree, will work as an English teaching assistant at two secondary institutions.

“It’s overall a very new experience,” Cresson said. “I haven’t been a [teacher’s assistant] or anything where I’ve directly taught. I’ve been in leadership roles, and I’ve had to mentor people along the way, so I’m hoping to draw on skills from there.”

Cresson, a German culture and language fanatic since middle school, was inspired to apply by Austrian Fulbright teaching assistants in Lafayette’s German department.

“Through mentored sessions with [the teaching assistants] and German club events, I’ve been able to make personal connections,” Cresson said. “That’s the sort of thing I’d like to make with my students in Austria.”

Podber was also accepted into the English teaching assistant program, but has the additional opportunity to do research. At the University of Innsbruck, Podber will put his international affairs degree to the test, researching populism and its relation to Austrian neutrality.

Goldwater scholars

Carter Brand ’25, Tess Stanley ’25 and Max Gianakopoulos ’25 all received the Barry Goldwater scholarship, an award that specifically recognizes undergraduate sophomores and juniors pursuing research in STEM-related fields, according to its website.

Brand was awarded the scholarship last year and will continue to receive the same monetary stipend. Since freshman year, Brand has been working with Kenneth Haug, an associate professor of chemistry.

“We’re looking at how neurotransmitters interact with biophotons in the brain,” Brand said. “Changes in the neurotransmitters could lead to different ways of communication in the brain that might lead to potential therapies in the future.”

For the past year, Stanley has worked with Tamara Stawicki, an assistant neuroscience professor. Stanley’s current research focuses on the neurobiology of hair cell death in zebrafish.

“The hair cells, on the outside of their body, are basically used to sense water movements around them,” Stanley said of zebrafish. “They are very similar, if not identical, to the hair cells that humans have in our ears.”

Gianakopoulos, a biochemistry major, was awarded the scholarship after submitting his research with Kristen DeMeester, an assistant chemistry professor. Last summer, Gianakopoulos traveled to California, where he investigated how small molecules interact with animal proteins for drug targeting. This spring, Gianakopoulos has shifted his research to focus specifically on cell interactions with bacteria and its implications on antibiotics.

“I think there’s definitely potential for overlap between antibiotic treatments and new methods of drug discovery,” Gianakopoulos said.

Correction 5/4/2024: A previous version of this article credited Liv Bamford ‘24 and Emma Sylvester ‘25 as the photographers for all of the photos. The photo of Tess Stanley ‘25 (bottom middle) was courtesy of Stanley.

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Clara Witmer
Clara Witmer, Staff News Writer
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