WOOSTER, Ohio – Eran Maina, a biochemistry and molecular biology major at The College of Wooster, has been named the recipient of a 2020 Goldwater Scholarship—the preeminent undergraduate award for students pursuing mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering—the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation announced March 27.
Maina continues Wooster’s fine tradition when it comes to Goldwater Scholars, as he is the second awardee in as many years and the 11th over the last 12 years.
A junior from Jacksonville, Fla., Maina says he will utilize the $7,500 scholarship during the 2020-21 academic year to continue investigating “the biological and biochemical basis for the unique conservation of the active site motif of baker’s yeast thioredoxin 2, a small redox protein that catalyzes the reduction of disulfide bonds in improperly oxidized proteins to protect cells from oxidative damage.”
At Wooster, Maina began researching that yeast redox protein with faculty mentor James West in 2018, and during the summer of 2019, he studied enzymes involved in ovarian cancer progression and metastasis as an undergraduate research fellow at the Mayo Clinic. He has also served as a health coach in conjunction with Wooster Community Hospital, an instructor in the STEM Zone, and a peer tutor.
This summer, Maina plans to volunteer in a low-income addiction clinic as a medical assistant through the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty program. That will allow him to gain experience in both the U.S. healthcare system and poverty, two areas he is particularly interested in.
Maina, whose career goals are to become a physician-scientist and conduct cancer research on the tumor microenvironment and molecular tools for early detection of cancerous cells, credited West and other mentors Mark Snider at Wooster and Evette Radisky at Mayo for “his success … by providing the experiences and guidance that made (him) a competitive applicant for this national scholarship.”
The Goldwater Foundation, a federally-endowed agency established in 1986, honors the five-term U.S. Senator from Arizona. There are about 450 college students selected as Goldwater Scholars each year, and nearly half of the previous recipients (49%) have gone on to earn Ph.D. degrees in science, mathematics, or engineering.