By Wendy Sarubbi | April 5, 2018 2:28 pm

A College of Medicine biotechnology and molecular microbiology major was one of two UCF students recently honored by the Goldwater Scholarship Program and Excellence in Education Foundation for their outstanding undergraduate research.

Junior George Walters-Marrah received a 2018 Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious honor that recognizes exceptional research work by undergraduate sophomores and juniors in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. This year’s pool was narrowed down from a field of 1,280 students nominated from more than 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide.

Established by Congress in 1986, Goldwater Scholarships reward students with up to $7,500 per year. Recent recipients have gone on to receive Rhodes Scholarships, Marshall Awards, Churchill Scholarships and Hertz Fellowships, among other distinguished awards.

Walters-Marrah was named as a scholar as a result of his research on Mycobacterium abscessus (Mab), an environmental mycobacteria often found in bodies of water and decomposing vegetation.

“I’m very honored to actually get this scholarship,” Walters-Marrah says. “I’ve heard a lot about the prestige of the Goldwater Scholarship. It is a magnet for other opportunities.”

Walters-Marrah is a McNair Scholar, Stokes Scholar, and was selected to participate in a National Science Foundation-funded research experience for undergraduate students at the University of Chicago. His involvement in three different research projects since his freshman year has secured him multiple small grants, as well as a spot on UCF’s Student Undergraduate Research Council. He is also an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Kyle Rohde’s lab at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. His current research is seeking to discover virulence factors that allow Mab to persist in the body, avoid clearance by the immune system, and resist antibiotic therapy.

Mechanical engineering major and honors student Mihn-Chau Le was also recognized by the Goldwater Foundation, receiving an honorable mention for her research in the development of bioengineered materials and devices for cancer research. She was one of only 281 nominees to receive this recognition.

In the past two years, UCF has produced two Goldwater Scholars and one honorable mention.


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