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Advancing in the Sciences

Phoebe Oldach ’13 receives a 2012 Goldwater Scholarship

Phoebe Oldach receives Goldwater Scholarship.

Phoebe Oldach ’13, pictured conducting fish-feeding experiments in the wetlab of the University of Queensland's (UQ) Moreton Bay Research Station.

by Catie Duckworth '14

Phoebe Oldach, a junior from Chapel Hill, N.C., with a double major in chemistry and biochemistry & molecular biology, has been awarded a Goldwater Scholarship by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. She is one of only 282 scholars nationwide to receive the 2012 scholarship.

“I loved seeing my name on the list and feeling acknowledged as a part of the nation’s scientific community,” says Oldach.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was authorized by Congress in 1986 in honor of the five-term U.S. Senator from Arizona. The program fosters and encourages excellence in science and mathematics by providing financial assistance for highly qualified individuals to contribute to their education and research in the sciences.

Oldach is the third chemistry major at Dickinson to receive the Goldwater Scholarship since 2006. “For a small department, that is a pretty remarkable achievement,” says Professor of Chemistry Michael Holden. “As for the college as a whole, another Goldwater indicates how well we do what we are supposed to do—take creative, intelligent young adults and mentor them so that they become scholars who take their places among tomorrow's leaders in their fields.”

Contributions to science 

Oldach has conducted on-campus research with Michael Roberts, associate professor of biology, and Jeffrey Forrester, assistant professor of mathematics, in their investigation of the genomic remodeling on leukemia cells. She is currently studying abroad in Australia and conducting research through the Global Scholars program with Associate Professor of Biology Tom Arnold. Oldach is part of a student-faculty research group investigating the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels.

A teaching assistant for biology and a tutor in chemistry, Oldach has been involved with Amnesty International and served as a leader for community-service trips and as a facilitator for the Sustained Dialogue Conflict Resolution Program.

“In the classroom, she's a hard worker,” says Holden. “She has an amazing capacity for learning and can extrapolate what she's learned to solve new problems.”

Holden feels the sky is the limit for Oldach because of her intelligence, enthusiasm and keen interest in her studies and research. “Students like Phoebe have so much enthusiasm,” he says. “It will be fun to track her progress over the next decade.”

A bright future 

Oldach would like to pursue a Ph.D. and work in biomedical research, public health initiatives or university-level education. Although she hasn’t decided on a particular field, she is certain about one thing:  she wants her work to contribute to improve global health. “My overarching career goal is just to keep heading toward the things that excite me the most and the outlets through which I could do the most good,” says Oldach.

Published April 30, 2012