CU Boulder students Zoe Drigot and Rose Summers are among only 417 college students from across the United States in 2022 to be awarded Goldwater Scholarships, which reward juniors and seniors who are actively conducting research in math, science and engineering.
Summers, a junior from Ward, Colorado, majoring in integrative physiology and neuroscience; and Drigot, a junior from Fort Collins, Colorado, majoring in neuroscience and psychology; join 46 previous CU Boulder Goldwater Scholars and will receive up to $7,500 for the 2022–23 academic year.
“Zoe and Rose are well positioned to become leaders in their fields through their innovative thinking and collaborative spirit,” said Deborah Viles, director of the Office of Top Scholarships at CU Boulder. “We are lucky to have them represent CU, and we’re excited to see where their research takes them.”
Drigot’s research lies in computational genomics and molecular psychiatry. She has done her research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she utilized computers to help make psychiatric models and analyze genetic patterns of people who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder and then later diagnosed with cancer. She also is doing research at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus where she is striving to learn about how the upper respiratory microbiome can be protective against streptococcus pneumoniae. Going forward, she hopes to use more computational modeling in her research.
“In my research, I aim to use computational methods before any wet lab methods,” she said. “I do this to minimize my environmental and financial impact. By advocating for these impacts to be minimized, I hope to make medicine more sustainable and more accessible to all socioeconomic classes.”
At CU, Drigot is one of Colorado’s Boettcher Foundation Scholars and is a member of the Presidents Leadership Class, where she says she has been able to meet some of her closest friends. Cooper Galvin at the Broad, Sarah Clark at Anschutz, Bob Spencer in CU Boulder’s Neuroscience Department and Viles have all been mentors in her academic endeavors.
After graduation, Drigot plans to work in the tech industry or health care investment banking before applying to MD/PhD programs.
Summers’ research focuses on neurological pathologies, which include disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and ALS. Currently she is working on a study that aims to explore the use of Mycobacterium vaccae for the prevention of stress-related chronic inflammation in shift workers. Working with Christopher Lowry in his Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Lab on campus, she hopes to learn more about how chronic neurological inflammation is linked to the progression of dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease, and how this relationship could be a target for future preventative methods and treatments. This summer she will be conducting research through the Harvard Amgen program.
“I am drawn to this partially because it is a field with so much potential for growth, as many aspects of the human brain remain mysteries,” Summers said. “But, more importantly, there is such an urgent need for an increased understanding of neurological pathologies because they can be devastating, even deadly, for patients, and they are extremely difficult to treat.”
After graduating, Summers plans to enroll in an accelerated master’s program to refine her research skills before entering a PhD or MD/PhD program.
“My aspirations for future research are to contribute to the knowledge of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative pathologies with the goal of aiding in the creation of new therapies,” she said. “My ultimate motivation for my work is that it will, directly or indirectly, improve quality of life for patients suffering from neurological disorders.”
Summers credits her lab mentors and instructors at CU for being incredibly supportive.
“I am grateful for the many opportunities I am being given, including the honor of being a Goldwater Scholar, and I could not have accomplished any of this without the kindness and generosity of those around me,” she said.
Applying for the Goldwater Scholarship
Deborah Viles, director of the Office of Top Scholarships, encourages math, science and engineering students with demonstrated research experience to consider applying for the Goldwater Scholarship next year. Contact Viles and visit the Goldwater Scholarship website for more information.
The Goldwater Foundation was established in 1986 in honor of Sen. Barry Goldwater. The scholarship program is designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.