Published: April 7, 2017 By

Jacob Rodriguez, a junior in CU Boulder’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been awarded the 2017 Goldwater Scholarship Award, one of the nation’s most prestigious scientific awards for undergraduates.

The scholarships, which are awarded by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, recognize outstanding sophomores and juniors in engineering, mathematics and natural sciences. This year, the foundation awarded 240 scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year, with an additional 307 nominees named as Honorable Mentions.

Rodriguez is a chemistry major and has been working with Assistant Professor Maciej Walczak on carbohydrate research looking for new methods of forming sugar-sugar bonds. Historically, synthesizing two sugar molecules has required harsh catalysts, compromising the ability to create a wider range of delicate complex chemical structures.

Rodriguez’s ongoing research could help improve biomedical fields and aid in drug discovery by expanding the basic “library” of molecules currently used to test potential receptor pairings for new anti-viral and anti-cancer drugs. He has already authored one academic paper on the research and is a co-author on another.

Rodriguez hopes to eventually earn his doctorate in synthetic organic chemistry and continue developing therapeutic solutions for diseases. He enjoys teaching, however, and wants to continue his involvement with introductory undergraduate chemistry classes as a Learning Assistant.

The Goldwater Scholarship recognition is exciting, said Rodriguez, and serves as encouragement to continue with research that he describes as “a lot of fun.”

Andrew Beel, a junior in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, also earned Honorable Mention as a Goldwater Scholarship nominee this year. Beel works with Assistant Professor Jeong-Hoon Song to solve higher-order partial differential equations that have real world design applications, including developing a computational framework to model 3-D metal printing processes. 

Deborah Viles, director of the Office of Top Scholarships, is proud to see CU Boulder students honored for their talent and leadership.

“Jacob and Andrew represent the exceptional quality of the math, science and engineering programs at CU Boulder,” said Viles. “They are sure to make lasting contributions to their fields.”

Since 1989, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has bestowed 7,921 scholarships worth approximately 63 million dollars.

jacob rodriguez

Jacob Rodriguez. Photo: Walczak Lab / University of Colorado Boulder.