From the May 2015 Desktop News | Courtney Rentas, a biology and psychology major from Naperville, Illinois, has been named a Goldwater Scholar for 2015-2016. She was among 260 Goldwater Scholars selected from 1,206 nominees nationwide.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program recognizes top-performing mathematics, science and engineering students nationwide through one- and two-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and lodging up to $7,500 a year. UA is No. 1 in the United States for its number of Goldwater Scholars from 2007 to 2015, with 25. Harvard University is second, with 23. Three other UA students were selected as Goldwater Scholars earlier this year.
“Being selected as a Goldwater scholar means more to me than I could possibly describe in a few sentences,” Rentas said. “It’s a validation of all of the time and effort that I have devoted to research for the past three years, and it’s such an honor to be recognized at the national level. I’m really thankful for the opportunities that I have had over the past three years at UA and I am so lucky to have such supportive mentors, Drs. Guy and Kim Caldwell and Dr. Laura Berkowitz.”
Rentas is an undergraduate researcher in the Caldwell lab, where Berkowitz serves as the laboratory manager. Rentas studies neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases in the model organism C. elegans.
Rentas started working in the lab as a freshman through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Program. Outside of the lab, she is involved in Greek life and holds leadership positions in other student organizations and honor societies on the UA campus.
After graduation, she plans to study neuroscience at the graduate level in hopes of developing treatment options for those suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.
The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established in 1986. The program, honoring U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in research in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.