Two Louisiana Tech students named University’s first Goldwater Scholars

Apr 12, 2023 | Engineering and Science, General News, Research, Students

Two Louisiana Tech Biomedical Engineering juniors have been named Barry Goldwater Scholars.  Catherine Lacey and Rebekah Lindblade are the University’s first Goldwater Scholars since the award’s inception in 1989.

The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields. This year 1267 students were nominated by 427 academic institutions to compete, and 413 Scholars were chosen.  Of students who reported, 197 of the Scholars are men and 203 are women, while 48 are mathematics and computer science majors, 308 are majoring in the natural sciences, and 57 are majoring in engineering.

“This year we began a Nationally Competitive Awards initiative because we knew we had excellent students like Lacey and Lindblade, and we wanted to give them a platform to shine,” said Dr. Joe Koskie, Director of the Honors Program.  “They have now linked Louisiana Tech and the Goldwater Foundation, which is a tremendous honor for our university.”

“The Goldwater Scholarship Program seeks scholars with strong commitment to a research career,” said Dr. Mary Caldorera-Moore, program chair of Biomedical Engineering at Louisiana Tech.  “Lacey and Lindblade are two exceptional students that completely embody the characteristics of a Goldwater Scholar.”

Catherine Lacey, a junior Biomedical Engineering student with an Electrical Engineering minor, is involved in numerous research projects since enrolling at Louisiana Tech University.  She is currently working with Caldorera-Moore in collaboration with neurosurgery doctors from LSU Shreveport to create a hydrogel coating to improve the biocompatibility of implantable electrodes. She is also in collaboration with other students from various universities and researchers at both the University of Florida and Johnson and Johnson to develop a multifunctional accessory to increase independence in wheelchair users. Formerly, she participated in Nanomanufacturing Systems Center Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Texas, Austin to design a bio-stimulation device based on feedback from electromyography (EMG) monitoring.

Lacey plans to pursue her PhD in Biomedical Engineering to conduct research in the field of bioinstrumentation, focusing on medical devices and sensors.

“I am honored to be selected as a Goldwater Scholar and considered a part of the next generation of researchers,’ said Lacey. “This scholarship supports my desire to pursue research in biomedical engineering during graduate school. Louisiana Tech has provided me with the opportunities and knowledge through projects, research labs, and courses to become a Goldwater Scholar. Thank you to those who have supported me through my application and my education thus far. I am extremely proud to represent Louisiana Tech’s first Goldwater Scholars alongside my friend, Rebekah.”

Rebekah Lindblade, a junior Biomedical Engineering student, has also participated in numerous research projects since enrolling at Louisiana Tech University.  She has worked with Louisiana Tech’s Dr. Teresa Murray on two different projects.  On one project, Lindblade worked with mice to study the effect of a new drug on specimens with traumatic brain injury.  She also assisted Dr. Murray in working on neural probes to monitor the signals in the brain that proceed a seizure.  Lindblade most recently worked with a team of researchers at Texas A&M University on a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) to create a bio-barcode system for continuous glucose monitoring.

Lindblade plans to pursue her PhD in Biomedical Engineering to conduct research on heart disease and current treatment procedures and to design preventative and curative devices.

“I am so honored to receive this award and am excited about the opportunities it will unlock,” said Lindblade.  “I’m incredibly grateful for the professors at Tech who believed in me and challenged me to achieve this success, especially my advisor and research mentor Dr. Teresa Murray.”

“I first got to know both Catherine and Rebekah as their professor for the first and then second freshman “Living with the Lab” engineering course in 2020,” said Caldorera-Moore.  “I knew then that they would both be great at research.  It is very exciting to continue to see them grow and develop and now to see them both being honored with such a prestigious and well-deserved scholarship.”

Kristi Stake, Louisiana Tech’s Coordinator of Nationally Competitive Scholarships, agrees.  “Catherine absolutely embodies the idea of ‘being like a duck’ – calm and collected on the surface but working twice as hard as everyone else in the background. And Rebekah’s unique ability to troubleshoot difficult situations and to think outside of the box is a huge benefit to anyone she works with.  It was such an honor to work with both of these scholars, as well as all of the students at Louisiana Tech who applied for the award.  We have such an impressive pool of students on campus who are involved in incredible research, and the University should be proud of their endeavors.”

Goldwater Scholars receive an amount equal to the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, books, and room and board minus the amount of support provided by other sources, up to $7,500 per academic year.