A-State Student is Goldwater Scholar, Sixth in School History

JONESBORO – For the sixth time in the university’s history, an Arkansas State University student has been chosen as a Goldwater Scholar. Lonoke native Alexx Weaver is an A-State junior studying biotechnology and biological sciences with an emphasis in evolution, ecology and organismal biology.

“I am overwhelmingly excited and honored to be a Goldwater Scholar. To me, this award feels like the cumulative product of years of study, research and dedication,” said Weaver.

Weaver was nominated by A-State for this honor. Dr. Argelia Lorence, James and Wanda Lee Vaughn Endowed Professor and professor of metabolic engineering, was one of her mentors who wrote a letter of recommendation.

“Alexx is one of those rare students who discovered her passion for science and research early in life. As a high school student, she did research in microbiology and authored a peer-reviewed publication. She wanted to continue doing research as soon as she got to college,” said Lorence.

At A-State, Weaver continued her passion for research, working with Lorence as an undergraduate researcher.

“During our interactions in the past two-and-a-half years, Alexx has presented herself as a smart, professional, focused, dependable, mature and independent worker with excellent people and communication skills. I see tremendous potential in Alexx,” said Lorence.

A member of the Honors College, Weaver currently conducts research at Arkansas Biosciences Institute with Dr. Fabricio Medina-Bolivar. She is studying the anticancer properties of compounds isolated from peanut hairy roots as potential therapeutic agents for triple-negative breast cancer.

“This type of breast cancer is the most difficult to treat; consequently, it has the lowest survival rate. Alexx joined a team of graduate and undergraduate students working on this project,” said Medina-Bolivar, professor of plant metabolic engineering and director of environmental sciences and molecular biosciences.

“She has contributed significantly to this research and these efforts resulted in a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Cancers earlier this year. I am truly proud of Alexx’s accomplishments and impressed with her dedication to the breast cancer research project,” said Medina-Bolivar.

Of the 413 Goldwater Scholars named this year, three of them are from universities in Arkansas.

“Goldwater Scholars receive up to $7,500 per year toward their undergraduate education,” said Jennifer Salo, director of A-State’s Emerging Scholars Program.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, established in 1986 by Congress, is a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater.

“One of the oldest and most prestigious national STEM scholarships in the United States, the Goldwater Scholarship seeks to identify and support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the nation’s next generation of research leaders in STEM fields,” said Salo.

The Goldwater Foundation helps ensure that the United States is producing the number of highly qualified professionals needed in critical fields in this country.

Weaver plans to continue her education and will seek a doctoral degree in infectious disease and pursue a public service career as a scientist for the U.S. government.

“I am forever grateful for the mentors, faculty, family, and friends that have supported me throughout my educational career; their dedication to my future is something I will never take for granted,” said Weaver.

An estimated 5,000 students were nominated from 427 academic institutions to compete for this award. With the 2023 awards, the number of scholarships awarded by the Goldwater Foundation since 1989 is at 10,283.

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