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Lycoming College student Mikayla Feldbauer ’20 of St. Marys, Pa., was recently awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for her senior year of study. With this award, Feldbauer joins an elite group of young scholars who show exceptional promise in becoming the next generation of research leaders.
The Goldwater Scholarship was established by Congress in 1986 for college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, to help ensure that the United States is producing highly-qualified professionals in these fields. From a pool of more than 5,000 applicants, Feldbauer was chosen for her academic merit, as well as her strong commitment to, and potential for significant contribution to science research. The Goldwater scholarship will help to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to $7,500.
“Lycoming College is honored to have Mikayla’s academic success and future potential affirmed by the receipt of this prestigious scholarship. Her future as a scientist is very bright, indeed,” said Philip Sprunger, provost and dean of the College.
With an interdisciplinary major that traverses the boundaries of biology, math, and computer science, Feldbauer has already gained substantial research experience. In the department of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University, she participated in the 2018 Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates, where she conducted research entitled “Investigating the Details of Spacer Acquisition in Type II CRISPR-Cas Systems.” As part of the research project, Feldbauer optimized the protocol for amplifying the Cas operon via PCR; transformed the Cas1 and Cas2 proteins and CRISPR array from Enterococcus faecalis into Bacillus subtilis; performed pilot integration experiments; and prepared and presented at the Summer Institute for Life Sciences Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium at Cornell. On Lycoming’s campus, she works in the mathematics department on differential equations research, and in the neuroscience department as a mouse laboratory assistant.
This summer, Feldbauer will further her experience by researching protein design and dynamics as a Rosetta Commons intern. “I definitely want to go into the field of computational biology, possibly with a goal of pursuing a research career in industry. I can see myself working in a research and development position for a government lab or a private lab,” said Feldbauer.
Feldbauer has distinguished herself at Lycoming College with a student career that draws on knowledge and experiences from a number of different areas. She serves as a tutor in the College’s Academic Resource Center for both math and biology. She has presented her research at conferences, and also composes and delivers monthly planetarium shows to the public in the College’s Detwiler Planetarium. She has been awarded the Lycoming College Trustee’s Scholarship, Fundamentals of Physics Award, M.B. Rich Endowed Prize, Freshman Biology Award, and Principles of Astronomy Award. Feldbauer is a member of both Phi Kappa Phi and IRUSKA honor societies, and has served in leadership positions with Omicron Delta Kappa, Student Senate, and the Society of Physics Students. She was also nominated by her peers for the Gettysburg Leadership Experience.
Upon graduation from Lycoming College, Feldbauer hopes to pursue a doctorate in computational biology, and conduct research in genomics or molecular dynamics. She will begin applying to graduate schools this fall.