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Goldwater Nominees

Four Ogden Honors Students Chosen as LSU's 2018 Goldwater Nominees for Cutting-Edge Undergraduate Research
Goldwater Nominees

From the left: Kelsey Olson, Katie Davis, Raleigh Goodwin, and Corey Matyas

LSU has nominated four Ogden Honors students for the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Corey Matyas, Katie Davis, Raleigh Goodwin, and Kelsey Olson will compete with students from universities across the country for the chance to be named a 2018 Goldwater Scholar. Students are selected through an internal competition evaluated by LSU STEM faculty.

“This year LSU had the highest number of interested applicants in over ten years,” said Drew Lamonica Arms, director of the Office of Fellowship Advising.  “I think that speaks to the quality and quantity of our undergraduate research and the value of programs like LSU Discover.  LSU is putting forward four young researchers who have presented at international conferences, participated in REUs, and published their findings in national journals.  They are taking their research far beyond the labs at LSU.”

“These four nominees are precisely what Congress had in mind when it created the Goldwater Scholarship,” Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle said. “Each has come up with fascinating research questions and proposals.”

Goldwater Scholars are awarded one and two-year $7,500 stipends to pursue undergraduate research in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering. To apply for the scholarship, students must submit a research essay that demonstrates their interest and ability in these fields. Goldwater Scholarships are widely considered one of the most prestigious undergraduate awards available to students of the STEM disciplines.

Corey Matyas, of Dahlonega, GA, is a sophomore studying physics and mathematics in the  College of Science. Through his research with the Quantum Science & Technologies (QST) Group, he has applied his computational science skills to vastly quicken intensive computer simulations of complex quantum systems and was able to modify a simulation that had run for days without completing to yield results in the span of hours. Matyas has taught himself about high-performance computing (HPC) and has been using HPC@LSU resources to apply his insights in both physics and software to allow for faster and more complicated computational physics simulations for all manner of quantum optical projects. His research has been under the guidance and instruction of Dr. Georgios Veronis.

"The opportunities to pursue meaningful research at LSU have been astounding,” Corey attests. “I am fulfilled by working at the frontiers of knowledge, and I've had the freedom and support here to do so. Dr. Veronis is a devoted research mentor, and the Honors College supports my undergraduate career as a whole."

After graduation, Matyas intends to pursue a PhD in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics through the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona. He plans to conduct academic research in quantum optics and quantum information and teach at the university level.

Katie Davis, of Frisco, TX, is a sophomore studying natural resource ecology and management with a concentration in wildlife ecology in the College of Agriculture. She also studies Spanish. Her research investigates an anecdotally reported range expansion and contraction of the species Bachman's Sparrow in the early 20th century. This research may inform the habitat needs of Bachman's Sparrow, a near-threatened species, and contribute to a further understanding of how genetically-based variation in personality relates to species distribution. Davis has worked with Dr. Sabrina Taylor and Dr. Philip Stouffer in her time at LSU.

“The most important thing about participating in undergraduate research, for me, has been the supportive environment in my lab,” Davis says. “My mentor, Dr. Taylor, has a fair number of graduate students working under her and they all have been extremely helpful. I've talked to them about my career path, they've described their path into research, let me know about bird-banding opportunities and species I should look for while I'm studying abroad in Australia, and they've taken the time to explain their research when I stop by their offices. Everyone I work with offers me new opportunities; I helped with fieldwork last summer and was invited to help catch Barred Owls with Dr. Stouffer's lab just last week. It's a very encouraging and dynamic learning environment.”

After graduation, she plans to pursue a PhD in Conservation Biology. She hopes to conduct research projects in the field and collaborate with governmental and non-governmental organizations to apply the results of research to species management.

Raleigh Goodwin, of Lake Charles, LA, is a junior studying cognitive psychology in the  College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her research, under Dr. Jason Harman, analyzes the relationship between persuasive techniques and instances of behavioral responses among participants. Goodwin has since developed an experiment which she will conduct for her Honors Thesis.

“The most exciting aspect of my research is its potential real-world application, especially in reference to the way the Louisiana government and coastal scientists communicate the problem of coastal erosion both to Louisiana citizens and its policy-makers,” she says. “If we can learn more about how to effectively convey coastal erosion to residents and state representatives -- in a way that instills an appropriate sense of importance and urgency, but also a greater will to engage in proactive behaviors -- perhaps we can begin to work together more effectively to fully address the problem.”

After graduation, Goodwin plans to pursue a PhD in decision science, a subfield of cognitive psychology. She hopes to conduct research in behavioral economics, risk-assessment and persuasion and teach at the university level.

Kelsey Olson, of Zachary, LA, is a junior studying biological sciences in the College of Science. Her research focuses on the effect of obesity on preeclampsia. Olson has worked with Dr. Leanne Redman and Dr. Jennifer Sones during her research career at LSU. She is currently looking into the effect of inflammatory factors, specifically those involved in the complement pathways, produced by excess white adipose tissue (fat) on the etiology of preeclampsia. Then, she will analyze how calorie restriction to reduce white adipose tissue deposition (fat deposits) affects the expression of these complement factors before pregnancy and at the maternal-fetal interface in early pregnancy.

“Being able to contribute to the research going on surrounding developmental programming and its role in preeclampsia has been an incredible experience,” she says. “My mentors Dr. Redman and Dr. Sones have opened so many doors for me, as well as teaching me how to become independent in my research. The professors I have had at LSU have also stepped forward to give advice about pursuing research and a perspective on what it truly entails. I have been so lucky to be surrounded by people who have made every effort to foster my education and future career.”

After graduation, Olson plans to pursue a PhD in developmental biology and research women’s health and pregnancy disorders, particularly preeclampsia.


The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation

Congress established the Barry Goldwater Scholarship in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The scholarship was designed to alleviate a critical, current and future shortage of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising

The Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising advises current students and recent graduates from all colleges at LSU as they apply for prestigious national and international fellowships. Students interested in applying for the Goldwater Scholarship may contact Drew Lamonica Arms, director of the Office of Fellowship Advising, at

LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College 

The Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Ogden Honors College provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.

LSU College of Agriculture

The LSU College of Agriculture offers dynamic and transformative academic experiences in agricultural sciences through innovation and collaboration in a diverse, supportive and personal environment.

College of Science

The LSU College of Science is an international leader in scientific research and instruction, elevating LSU to the highest level of excellence among major research universities in the U.S. and abroad. The college consists of five academic departments including biological sciences, chemistry, geology and geophysics, mathematics, and physics and astronomy, and the LSU Museum of Natural Science. Seven major fields of study and more than 20 concentrations are available to students interested in pursuing a science major at LSU. For more information on LSU’s College of Science, visit 

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

The College of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS) offers a diverse range of courses, minors, and degree programs that are critical to success in today’s global market. Students, faculty, and staff are visionary leaders in their respective fields, a tradition of excellence that began with the College’s inception in 1908. For more information on the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, visit


Story and research by Lucy Simon. 



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