A UT Arlington undergraduate who
found her passion studying microorganisms and their role in ecology has been
awarded the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.
Jessica Dawn Stevens
Jessica Dawn Stevens, a junior
majoring in microbiology and biology, is among just 11 students in Texas named
as Goldwater Scholars for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Another student in the UT
Arlington College of Science, Emmanuel Fordjour, was recognized as an honorable
mention in this year’s competition. Stevens is UT Arlington’s third Goldwater
Scholar since 2012.
“The Goldwater Scholars program is well known for identifying
top-flight students with potential to make a lasting contribution to their
research fields. Having three students chosen as Scholars in three consecutive
years is a testament to the caliber of UT Arlington students and the quality of
our academic and research programs,” said Pamela Jansma, dean of the UT
Arlington College of Science. “We are proud of Jessica and Emmanuel, and of the way
that UT Arlington faculty members inspire our students to achieve their
The Goldwater Scholarship and
Excellence in Education program awards scholarships to up to 300 incoming juniors and seniors each year. It was established by federal legislation in
1986 to encourage excellence and fill the critical need for mathematicians,
scientists and engineers. Each Goldwater Scholar receives up to $7,500
UT Arlington’s first Goldwater
Scholar, Erica Castillo, majored in aerospace engineering and physics. She graduated
in 2013 and went on to a job at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth. The
University’s second honoree was Stevens’ husband, Elijah Stevens, who is now a
senior majoring in mechanical engineering.
The Goldwater Scholars’ recognition spotlights the tradition of student excellence
at UT Arlington, said Mahera “Mimi” Philobos, an assistant provost who oversees
honor is a testimony to the caliber of our students and our relentless belief
in their abilities,” Philobos said.
Jessica Dawn Stevens started at UT
Arlington in 2010 as an architecture major, but a class in biology turned her
attention toward natural sciences. She quickly became interested in doing
research with College of Science professors.
Since then, she has worked in
the laboratories of Matthew Walsh and Todd Castoe, both assistant professors of
biology, and has helped study the asexual and sexual reproduction of Daphnia, a
small crustacean that adapts its method of reproduction to stressors in the
environment. Studying them will help scientists understand the link between
ecology and evolutionary changes in species.
Stevens also has participated in
National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates, or REU,
summer program at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, studying
She was also named a NSF Robert
Noyce Summer Intern at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas in Fort Worth.
There, she helped develop curriculum materials for practicing educators to
motivate and engage students in the natural sciences. This fit in well with her future plans to create
her own non-profit aimed at education and outreach to promote increased
“I enjoy sharing knowledge and
information that I’m excited about,” she said. “What I love about science is
its complexity and I want to find ways to help children and adults see how
important scientific knowledge can be to understanding and protecting the world
Fordjour, who is UT Arlington’s
second honorable mention in the Goldwater program, is majoring in biology and
microbiology and minoring in chemistry. He has worked with Julian Hurdle, an assistant
professor of biology, to seek out novel drug combinations to fight the dangerous,
hospital-acquired disease Clostridium difficile infection.
Fordjour recently was named a
winner of the Washington D.C.-based Council on Undergraduate Research’s 2014
Posters on the Hill competition. He also
is a member of the UT Arlington Honors College and recipient of the UT System
Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, or LSAMP, scholarship.
Both Fordjour and Stevens plan
to pursue graduate degrees after they complete their bachelor’s studies in 2015.
About UT Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research
institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas
System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the
seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News &
World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate
diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.