Third-years win prestigious science prize

By Amalia Beckner

[img id=”80538″ align=”alignleft”] Two third-year students in the College, Erin Mowers and Donnie Bungum, were recently named Goldwater Scholars by the Barry M Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation for their accomplishments in science at the University.

Bungum, a chemistry and biochemistry double major, did not always know he wanted to pursue science, but after taking the University’s chemistry sequence he was hooked, he said.

“It just clicked with the way I like to think about things,” Bungum said. “I like biochemistry because it gives a degree of relevance to [research]. It gives a human, an animal context to it, which is amazing in itself.”

Bungum related his interest in chemistry to his interest in his faith and his involvement with Calvert House, a campus Catholic center.

“I find that interaction really interesting…how ethics plays out in this,” Bungum said.

He credits much of his progress and interest in chemistry to Professor Gregory Hillhouse, with whom he has worked for two and a half years studying organometallic synthesis. It was also Hillhouse who first suggested that Bungum apply for the Goldwater Scholarship. This summer, Bungum will finish his second year in the P.C. Bio/Beckman Program, an interdisciplinary seminar for undergraduates researching molecular science, and eventually wants to earn a graduate degree in chemistry.

Mowers, who is double majoring in biology and chemistry, began her career at Chicago considering an English major but was drawn to research after working on a biology fellowship during the summer following her first year. Though she admits the additional major in chemistry will be useful, Mowers is a biology major at heart.

“I consider myself a biology major, but I really appreciate being able to interact with both groups of people,” Mowers said. “They think in very different ways.”

Mowers is currently researching cancer drug development in the pathology department and hopes to continue cancer research after graduating.

“I love doing translational research,” Mowers said. “I like how it will stand the divide between clinical practice and bench research.”

Mowers plans to apply to the University’s Medical Scientist Training Program to pursue joint M.D. and Ph.D. degrees.

Goldwater scholarships are one- or two-year scholarships awarded annually to second- and third-year undergraduates who are interested in pursuing science careers. They provide up to $7,500 per school year for college expenses.