Brandon Roy '20 Named Goldwater Scholar

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has named Lebanon Valley College junior Brandon Roy ’20 a 2019–2020 Goldwater Scholar. The national award recognizes undergraduate researchers for truly exceptional work. Nominees must be full-time college sophomores or juniors intending to pursue a research career in a natural science, mathematics, or engineering. Goldwater Scholars receive up to $7,500 a year to help cover costs associated with their remaining undergraduate studies. 

Dr. Philip Benesch, LVC faculty director of external scholarships and fellowships, and several LVC science faculty worked with Roy throughout the application process. The team also mentored Robert Tesoriero Jr. ’19, fellow biochemistry & molecular biology major, who received Goldwater Honorable Mention selection in 2018.

Roy, a junior who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical biology and teach at a university, is advised by Dr. Michelle Rasmussen, assistant professor of chemistry, with whom he also conducts research. He counts Rasmussen, Dr. Eric Ryndock (assistant professor of biology), and Dr. Walter Patton (chair and associate professor of chemistry), among his mentors. He has also worked with Dr. Erica Unger and Dr. Tim Peelen at LVC.

“Brandon has been a tremendous asset to my lab,” said Rasmussen. “His hard work and dedication in the lab have led to excellent results that we hope to publish soon.”

In Rasmussen’s lab, Roy and Anna Weaver ’21 research “Self-powered Enzymatic Biosensors for Simultaneous Detection of Two Biomarkers of Parkinson’s Disease.” Currently, there is no definitive test to detect Parkinson’s disease in patients. The goal of their research is to fabricate and analyze a self-powered enzymatic biosensor that can detect biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease before the onset of symptoms. Roy previously conducted and presented research on “Self-Powered Glutathione Biosensors” with Julia Rutherford ’18, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in biochemistry & molecular biology at the University of Maryland. 

Roy also was recently accepted to Cornell University’s Summer Scholars Program in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, under Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, N.Y. There, he’ll study the Grapevine Red Blotch Virus under Dr. Marc Fuchs and graduate student Maddie Flasco. 

Tesoriero Jr., who graduates this May, plans to pursue his Ph.D. in systems, synthetic, and physical biology at Rice University in Texas. He also was mentored by Professors Patton, Peelen, and Rasmussen.

The Goldwater Scholarship Program

The Goldwater Scholarship Program, one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics in the United States, seeks to identify and support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming this Nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields. 

The characteristics the Foundation seeks in a Goldwater scholar include a strong commitment to a research career in the natural science, mathematics, and engineering; an effective display of intellectual intensity in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering; and the potential for a significant future contribution to research in their chosen field. 

Students interested in being considered for a Goldwater Scholarship should consult Dr. Philip Benesch, faculty director for prestigious external scholarships, and work closely with LVC STEM faculty to develop their undergraduate research. Dr. Benesch may be contacted at benesch@lvc.edu.