Going for the Goldwater

Allison Shirley

Junior Kyle Dolan of Winthrop, MA, was recently named a Goldwater Scholar. Perhaps this sounds completely insignificant at the moment and Dolan seems like just one of many such winners throughout the United States, but receiving the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, as Dolan did, is certainly no small accomplishment.

The $7,500 scholarship’s intent is to encourage college students to pursue studies and potentially careers in science, math or engineering. Winners of the scholarship are committed to performing research and may use their scholarship money for usual college costs, such as tuition and books.

A molecular biology major, Dolan has been dedicated to both molecular biology and research prior to his arrival at Colgate.

“I’ve been interested in molecular biology since high school,” Dolan said, “but my appreciation for it has grown immensely while I’ve been at Colgate. There is an incredible degree of elegance to intricate mechanisms that allow life to unfold.”

Why has molecular biology sparked his interest?

“There is still very much to be discovered about life at the molecular level, so molecular biology is very much a frontier science,” he said. “It’s very exciting to be a part of that ongoing process of discovery.”

Dolan first heard of the Goldwater Scholarship this past summer while collaborating with Colgate’s Dr. Mark Kainz of the Biology department as a research assistant.

“I was investigating an interaction between the RNA genome of the Tomato spotted wilt virus and a protein the virus makes that is critical for its replication,” he said.

After concluding his research for the summer, Dolan heard he was being considered for the award. Because each individual school can only submit four nominations, Dolan was first selected as one of Colgate’s top four nominees before a National Committee reviewed all submissions and chose the winners.

Competition for the Goldwater is certainly tough. With approximately 1,091 applicants this year, Dolan was among 320 students nationwide to win the award.

Dolan will continue his studies with molecular biology by working at the National Institutes of Health this summer in Washington, DC. He will also be there the following fall as a participant in the National Institutes of Health Study Group. The group for students involved in biosciences facilitates interaction between students and other scientific researchers from throughout the world. Dolan will primarily be looking into how the HTLV-1 virus turns normal cells into cancerous cells.

The Goldwater Scholarship was created in 1986 as a tribute to Barry M. Goldwater, a senator with over 30 years of experience in the US Senate (www.act.org/goldwater).

“How did I feel about winning this award?” Dolan pondered. “Incredibly excited and honored, and grateful to the people who presented me with this opportunity and encouraged me to pursue it.”