The first Goldwater Scholarship in Central Michigan University's history has been awarded to Kristopher Kieft, an Honors student majoring in biology. Kieft was one of 252 scholars chosen from a competitive pool of 1,150 national nominations. An additional 256 students were awarded honorable mentions.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship Program was created to encourage outstanding undergraduate students to pursue research careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields. Kieft, a junior from Rothbury, believes the nationally competitive scholarship will be a key part of his acceptance into a graduate school program where he plans to continue his research in emerging viruses.
"I have been looking at many different graduate schools, but I haven't chosen one yet," he said. "This scholarship will be an important tool in helping me get into a competitive program."
Kieft began conducting research in 2013 under the guidance of CMU microbiology faculty member Michael Conway. Conway studies emergent viruses, focusing specifically on Dengue Fever and related viruses. Now that he has found virology research, Kieft wants to follow a similar path.
"I want to be on the front lines of emerging virus research," Kieft said. "It would be great to have the expertise to help inform people about what viruses are, what they do and how they impact the human body."
Kieft has presented his research twice at CMU's Student Research and Creative Endeavors Exhibition, the Honors SRCEE, and has co-authored several articles awaiting publication in professional academic journals. After completing his bachelor's degree, Kieft plans to pursue a Ph.D. in virology, preparing himself for a career in academia or within a government facility conducting research on pathogenic viruses. The variety of programs at CMU helped lead him to this discipline, he said.
"There are so many opportunities at CMU to excel," Kieft said. "There is a huge diversity in the research labs and just so many opportunities to get involved in research."
2016 Honorable Mention
Plymouth junior Brent Piligian has been named a 2016 Goldwater Honorable Mention, the third in CMU history to receive this recognition.
Piligian, a biomedical science and neuroscience major, plans to pursue a M.D./Ph.D. in chemical and molecular biology and conduct biomedical research with a focus on diseases of the musculoskeletal system. His ultimate goal is to work in an academic hospital and teach in a university setting. An intensive summer research experience in 2015 strengthened Piligian's passion for medical discovery.
"I started to realize the crucial impact that research can have not only on me, but society," he said.
Students can learn more about the Goldwater Scholarship, including how to apply, through CMU's National Scholarship Program.