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Veronica Balick Named Goldwater Scholar

Veronica Balick, C’20, a double major in biochemistry and biology, has been awarded a 2019-20 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the preeminent undergraduate award for students intending to pursue research careers in the fields of natural science, mathematics, and engineering.

veronica_balick-small.jpgBalick is one of only 496 U.S. college students to have been selected for the scholarship this year from a pool of more than 5,000 sophomores and juniors nominated by 443 colleges and universities.  She will receive up to $7,500 to cover tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

"I'm so honored to receive the Goldwater," said Balick, who is one of the university's Founders' Scholars for the Class of 2020. "I'm really excited and grateful."

Established in 1986 by the U.S. Congress, the highly competitive scholarship recognizes college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the nation’s next generation of research leaders in the areas of natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

 “Veronica is one of the brightest students I have taught during my 24 years at Mount St. Mary’s University,” said Professor and Director of Health Professions Patricia Kreke, Ph.D., who wrote a recommendation letter for Balick. “Her intelligence, plus her initiative and intellectual curiosity, as evidenced by her many research experiences, make her an outstanding candidate for the Goldwater Award.”

Science Department Chair Christine McCauslin, Ph.D., who also wrote a recommendation letter, compared Balick’s talents to those of Christine Wroge Emnett, Ph.D., C’09, who won a Goldwater Scholarship in 2008-09, noting that both scholars were exceptionally gifted, mature and hard-working as undergraduates. “I am thrilled to work with a student such as Veronica and I have no doubt that she will make significant and valuable contributions to the scientific community over the course of her career,” McCauslin said.

In addition to working in McCauslin's lab, which focuses on transcriptional regulation of the initiation and progression of neuroinflamation in the brain, Balick has gained considerable experience in the business, treatment and therapy and laboratory aspects of research by interning in the summer after her freshman year at a biotechnology company, last summer in an immunology lab at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and this summer at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.

"I want to be able to help in cancer research," Balick said. "There is so much that we don't know."

Balick was aided in her Goldwater application by the Office of Competitive Fellowships and professors in the School of Natural Science and Mathematics. In addition to Kreke and McCauslin, Dr. Paulina Velasquez of St. Jude wrote a recommendation letter. The Goldwater Committee, comprised of Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Brian Heinhold, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Chemistry Garth Patterson, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Psychology Angy Kallarackal, Ph.D.; and Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Office of Competitive Fellowships Jamie Gianoutsos, Ph.D., provided support for Veronica’s application and research essay. Patterson and Kallarackal also are Competitive Fellowships Committee members.