Two Iowa State students named Goldwater Scholars

AMES, Iowa — Two Iowa State University students have been named 2021 Goldwater Scholars.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering in the United States. The scholarships are awarded by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in STEM research.

A total of 410 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of more than 5,000 applicants nationwide.

Iowa State candidates are selected by a faculty committee coordinated by Gene Newgaard, coordinator of nationally competitive awards.

Iowa State’s 2021 Goldwater Scholars are:

  • Benjamin Litterer, junior in data science from Manchester, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in statistics with an emphasis in bioinformatics. His goal is to become a faculty member at a research university and answer important questions in proteomics and genetics.
  • Paiton McDonald, junior in agricultural biochemistry from Fletcher, North Carolina, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in immunology and infectious diseases. Her goal is to conduct immunology research and teach at the university level.

The one-year scholarships are available to juniors and the two-year scholarships are available to sophomores. They cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. 

Iowa State’s Goldwater Scholarship Campus Committee included Kent Kerby, assistant dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Gloria Starns, associate teaching professor of mechanical engineering; Eric Underbakke, assistant professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology; Kevin Schalinske, professor of food science and human nutrition; Brian Hornbuckle, professor of agronomy; and Svitlana Zbarska, undergraduate research coordinator.

Research, scholarship opportunities

Any ISU student interested in applying for the Goldwater Scholarship should contact Gene Newgaard, coordinator of nationally competitive awards, at To learn more about undergraduate research opportunities, contact Svitlana Zbarska, undergraduate research coordinator, at