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USC has 3 Goldwater scholars in 2024

Scholarship winners all plan to pursue advanced degrees

Three University of South Carolina students were awarded prestigious Goldwater scholarships Friday (March 29).

All three are Honors College students earning degrees in the College of Engineering and Computing.

It is the 32nd consecutive year the university has had at least one Goldwater scholar and USC has had 70 scholars total since the awards were established in 1986 to honor U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

More than 400 higher education institutions nominate up to four students each academic year for the $7,500 awards meant to encourage undergraduate students to pursue research careers in natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. A total of 438 scholarships were awarded this year.

This year’s USC winners are:

Caroline Rucker

Junior biomedical engineering major from Powhatan, Virginia
Caroline rucker

Caroline Rucker, a junior biomedical engineering major from Powhatan, Virginia, studies using bio-inspired polymer particles for the treatment of chronic inflammation, which has been blamed for a wide range of health conditions from autoimmune disease to cancer.

Rucker has worked with engineering professor Michael Gower’s lab since her freshman year at Carolina and has collaborated with Ph.D. students to fabricate particles and study how those particles modulate inflammation. She is co-authoring a publication on those studies.

In other campus activities, Rucker has served as the director of marketing and communications for the Gamecock CommUnity Shop, which provides free basic needs items, including food, toiletries and clothing, to students, faculty and staff.

Rucker plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and conduct research and teach as a university faculty member in the field of immunoengineering.

What she’s saying: “It is my belief that approaches to health care must be comprehensive, as many of the disease states I research could be prevented by lifestyle changes.”


Jeremiah Tobin

Junior biomedical engineering major from Greenville
jeremiah tobin

Jeremiah Tobin, a junior biomedical engineering major from Greenville, South Carolina, hopes to earn a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and pursue research and development in the immunology field.

He has been working with Mark Uline on the physics-based modeling of biological macromolecules for more than a year, focusing on phospholipids and proteins. His current project is working with Clinton Webb and Abigail Caridi at the School of Medicine on modeling immunological sensor proteins in the development of hypertension.

He presented his research on “Systems Biology Modeling of Inflammasomes Impacting Hypertension” at the Biomedical Engineering Society annual meeting in Seattle last year. And hopes ultimately to conduct research in pharmaceuticals.

What he’s saying: “In applying for the Goldwater scholarship, I had the privilege to discuss my research with an incredible board of advisors from across the fields of science and mathematics. The experience was invaluable, and I gained an appreciation of the delivery of my research and the story I was telling about my research progression.”


Katelyn Wyandt

Junior computer science major from Summerville, SC
katelyn Wyandt

Katelyn Wyandt, a junior computer science major from Summerville, South Carolina, has been conducting research since she was a freshman at USC, specifically working with associate professor Dezhi Wu in integrated information technology.

She says attending the Grace Hopper Celebration 2022 with the women in computing club was a pivotal experience for her, where she realized the opportunity women in technology have to shape the future of technology and education for future generations.

Wyandt hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in human-centered design and engineering and plans to use her Goldwater Scholarship to deepen her research experiences.

What she’s saying: “Research at USC has allowed me to explore … the intersection of my creative and analytical sides … and how they work together with my ultimate goal of contributing to the improved access and usability of educational resources worldwide.”

How they do it

Students applying for national fellowships and scholarships work closely with top research faculty members. This year’s Goldwater faculty committee was chaired by Melissa Moss, engineering and computing. Committee members were Dave Barbeau, earth, ocean and environment, Zhengqing Fu, biological sciences, Mark Uline, engineering and computing, and Yanwen Wu, physics and astronomy.

Students interested in applying for the Goldwater or other national fellowships should contact National Fellowships and Scholar Programs.