Our Stories

Natalie MurenNatalie Muren

Willamette Sophomore Wins Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Natalie Muren, a sophomore chemistry major, has been named a 2004 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The two-year scholarship provides up to $7,500 a year for tuition, books and room and board costs. Muren was one of 310 Goldwater Scholars from a field of 1,113 nominees nationwide selected on the basis of academic merit.

A native of Keizer, Ore., Muren attended McNary High School, where her interest in scientific research earned her second place in her category at the 2001 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in San Jose, Calif.

Muren says she was "surprised and honored to win the Goldwater. I applied for it more for the experience. I was really surprised to hear I'd won."

At Willamette, Muren has been working with Professor Sarah Kirk, synthesizing and purifying novel neomycin B-amino acid conjugates, a type of antibiotic, and characterizing them with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. As a participant in the Summer Collaborative Research Program, Muren presented their research results this fall at the Murdock Undergraduate Research Conference in Tacoma, Wash. Her application for the Goldwater involved writing a long essay about her research with the antibiotic and how the work can make a significant contribution to cancer treatment. She also wrote personal essays about her interest in science, her research experience and her career goals.

"Applying for the Goldwater meant I had to write very well defined educational and career goals," she says. "It required me to investigate graduate programs and the research that is going on at various institutions. In the long run, this investigation into what I really want to do will be much more valuable that the scholarship itself."

Muren plans to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular biophysics. Her career objective is to lead a research team at a major university to find the answers to fundamental questions about the dynamics of transcriptional regulation in coordination with other complex cellular processes, eventually leading to the development of novel treatments for cancer and other diseases.

At Willamette, Natalie runs on the varsity cross country and track teams and is vice president of the Chemistry Club.