Four CSU students are Goldwater Scholarship honorable mentions

Goldwater honorable mentions 2017

All four Goldwater Scholarship nominees from CSU received honorable mentions this year. From left: Kate Bates, Ben Fixman, Olivia Luyties and Ethan Coldren. 

Four Colorado State University students, Kate Bates, Ethan Coldren, Ben Fixman and Olivia Luyties, received honorable mentions in this year’s Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Competition.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency honoring the late Sen. Barry Goldwater. It designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. This highly competitive award is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields, and interested students must receive a nomination from their university in order to apply.

This was an especially successful year for CSU’s Goldwater nominees. Each year, institutions can nominate only four students for this award, so the fact that all of our nominees were recognized in the competition is testament not only to their talents, but the strength of our undergraduate research programs.

Students recognized by the Goldwater Foundation have impressive academic qualifications that garner the attention of post-graduate fellowship programs. Mitchell Bordelon and Dillon Jarrell, both recent Goldwater Honorable Mentions, received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Emily Robitschek, a 2014 Honorable Mention and 2015 Scholar, was a 2016 Truman Finalist and is currently an alternate for a Fulbright Grant in Switzerland.

Goldwater Honorable Mentions for 2016-17  

Kate Bates is a junior studying zoology.

She conducts research in Carol Seger’s Cognitive Neuroscience lab and Kim Hoke’s Evolutionary Biology lab. She is a teaching assistant for Animal Anatomy at CSU, and is lead tutor for chemistry at The Institute for Learning and Teaching. She also works on behavioral problems in un-adoptable dogs at Larimer Humane Society, in addition to training volunteers on how to modify behaviors in dogs and cats.

While in high school, Bates conducted research in a behavioral neuroscience lab at University of Alaska, Fairbanks under Abel Bult-Ito. This research won first place in the Alaska State High School Science Symposium, and was the Alaska delegate to the national competition. This was how she realized she wanted to research neuroscience.

Bates plans to apply to a neuroscience Ph.D. program after she graduates. She wants to conduct research on the underlying mechanisms of learning, particularly operant conditioning, and she wishes to pursue academia to fulfill her equal passion for teaching.

Ethan Coldren is a sophomore majoring in mathematics, physics, and computer science.

He has been interested in combinatorics since high school. This past summer, he conducted research at the University of Michigan in information theory, generalizing the Blahut-Arimoto algorithm for computing rate distortion and channel capacity.

Coldren is also working with Kate Ross and Marty Gelfand in the physics department, writing a Python program to compute the ground state spin configuration of a magnetically frustrated crystal. He is also helping Society of Physics Students club to construct a spark chamber, and is collaborating with Ross McConnell and a Ph.D. candidate on a paper detailing an algorithm for recognizing circular arc graphs..

This summer, he will conduct research under Florian Frick at Cornell University studying the intersection of topology and combinatorics.

Ben Fixman is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience.

During his undergraduate studies, Fixman has conducted research on Alzheimer’s disease in the lab of Professor Emeritus James Bamburg. His two-year tenure in the laboratory has resulted in the development of a novel hippocampal slice culture and imaging method. He plans to continue his neuroscience research throughout his undergraduate career and eventually complete an M.D./Ph.D. program.

After receiving his degrees, Fixman plans to work as a physician researcher, treating brain cancer patients and working in the lab to better understand the behavior of brain tumors. Fixman’s motivation to work with brain cancer patients grew after he was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in the fall of 2016.

Olivia Luyties is a junior majoring in biochemistry.

For the past three years, she has pursued her passion for biochemistry as an undergraduate researcher in Thomas Santangelo’s lab in the biochemistry department. There, she uses biochemical and genetic techniques to elucidate the role of novel proteins in the archaeal organism Thermococcus kodakarensis. In addition to her research, she enjoys her role as an Honors Peer Mentor to freshmen in the Honors Program, helping them navigate their first semester in college.

Outside of class, Luyties spends time birdwatching, watercolor painting, and volunteering at the Fort Collins Cat Rescue. After her undergraduate education, she plans to attend graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She aspires to conduct research using biochemistry and genetics to develop clean biofuels, among other biological products, to help solve current environmental crises.

Apply to be a Goldwater Scholar

Current freshmen and sophomores interested in applying for a Goldwater Scholarship can contact Mary Swanson, associate director of the Office for Undergraduate Research and Artistry and CSU’s campus representative for the Goldwater Scholarship, at