Iowa State University student is named a prestigious Goldwater Scholar for 2012

AMES, Iowa - An Iowa State University biochemistry student who someday wants to earn a doctoral degree and conduct research has been named a 2012 Goldwater Scholar.

Sam Condon is one of 282 United States sophomores and juniors this year awarded the nation's premier undergraduate scholarship award in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. The scholarships were announced by Iowa State's University Honors Program, which coordinates nominations and applications.

A Waterloo native and graduate of Cedar Falls High School, Condon is abroad this semester studying Japanese at Nihon University in Mishima, Japan.

Condon is an "extremely deserving recipient of the Goldwater Award," said Marna Yandeau-Nelson, a scientist with the Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB) who has mentored Condon the past two years. Condon works with her and Basil Nikolau, professor of BBMB, on dissecting the pathways by which hydrocarbons are produced in maize.

"It is an absolute pleasure to mentor and work with Sam," Yandeau-Nelson said. "Sam has a passion for science and research and has made very significant intellectual and technical contributions to this project. I am continually impressed by the level at which he contributes and the depths of his knowledge - he is definitely an integral member of our team. His excitement for his research project is infectious."

Two Iowa State third-year aerospace engineering students earned honorable mention in this year's Goldwater competition. Christian Setzer of Amana has a secondary major in physics, and Prasad Raman of Eden Prairie, Minn., also majors in economics.

Condon, also a third-year student at Iowa State, worked with the Pata Laboratory at SUNY (State University of New York)-Albany in summer 2011 through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

Condon also is the recipient of several Iowa State honors. He won the 2011-12 Robert Stupka Memorial Scholarship at Iowa State, the BBMB departmental award for undergraduate excellence in research, and the Dexter French Award in both 2009-10 and 2010-11 for the BBMB student with the highest grade-point average. He is a member of the University Honors Program, a George Washington Carver Scholar and a National Merit Scholar.

Yandeau-Nelson added that Condon is a leader in the lab. "In the past year he trained and led a small team in analyzing more than 1,000 corn silk samples and has since performed much of the statistical analysis on the data set."

"Sam is a phenomenal individual and student and will most certainly make his mark on this world," said Amy Andreotti, professor of BBMB. "I was extremely fortunate to have Sam in class. His questions often led the entire class into considering new aspects of a problem, moving my planned lectures in significantly more sophisticated directions."

Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

According to the Goldwater Scholars program, 174 of the scholars are men, 108 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Twenty scholars are mathematics majors, 194 are science and related majors, 58 are majoring in engineering, and 10 are computer science majors.