Sophomore and junior named Goldwater Scholars

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Headshots of Sarah Boyer and Mia Jastrzembski
(l to r) Sarah Boyer, Mia Jastrzembski

MACON — Two Mercer University students were announced as recipients of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s most prestigious scholarship for undergraduates in science, mathematics and engineering.

Junior Sarah Boyer and sophomore Mia Jastrzembski were among 438 college sophomores and juniors from across the U.S. to be awarded the scholarship for the 2024-25 academic year. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Scholarship recipients were selected from a pool of 1,353 undergraduates nominated by 446 institutions.

Boyer and Jastrzembski bring the University’s total number of winners to 20 since 2013, making Mercer one of the state’s leading producers of Goldwater Scholars.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier program for recognizing America’s best young scientists and engineers. Applicants undergo a rigorous application process during which they must highlight their knowledge of their own research area and demonstrate their commitment to pursuing a career in research,” said Dr. Adam Kiefer, Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry and Goldwater Scholarship faculty representative at Mercer. “This award is not only a testament to these students’ hard work, intelligence and determination, but also recognizes their potential as future researchers.”

From Forsyth, Boyer is a biochemistry and molecular biology major in Mercer’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She was recently selected as an Amgen Scholar, is in the University Honors Program, is a member of the nation’s oldest academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa, honor society Phi Kappa Phi and chemistry honor society Gamma Sigma Epsilon. She is also the program assistant for intramural sports.

After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry.

“I am honored to be selected as a recipient of the Goldwater Scholarship,” Boyer said. “Without the unwavering support of Mercer faculty, this accomplishment would not have been possible. Dr. Garland Crawford, my research advisor, has been especially integral to my development as a researcher. I am also thankful for the mentorship of Dr. Ben Miller during my REU experience at the University of Rochester. Each of my research experiences and the relationships I have built with faculty mentors have been critical to my success.”

She works in the biochemistry lab of Dr. Garland Crawford, associate professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department.

(l to r) Sarah Boyer, Dr. Garland Crawford. Photo by Leah Yetter

“Sarah has shown remarkable talent in the laboratory and has a natural curiosity that makes her an excellent scientist,” Dr. Crawford said. “She has shown a willingness and a talent for developing skills to address challenges as they arise. She has taking every opportunity to prepare herself for graduate school and a career in research. I am proud of her for this outstanding achievement.”

From Marietta, Jastrzembski is a biomedical engineering major in Mercer’s School of Engineering where she is in the Engineering Honors Program. She was recently selected as an Amgen Scholar, is a Stamps Scholar and a Tift Scholar, and she volunteers with Mercer’s Go Baby Go program modifying battery-powered toy cars for children with limited mobility.

“It is an incredible honor to receive this scholarship and to represent Mercer University on a national level,” she said. “I am grateful for my family, professors and friends who have supported and encouraged me in reaching this achievement. I look forward to continuing to perform valuable research and using this scholarship to pursue my dream of researching better treatments for cancer.” 

At Mercer, Jastrzembski is involved in conducting aerosol research with Dr. Sinjae Hyun, professor and chair of biomedical engineering, to study particle deposition in the human lung. He said she has consistently exhibited a unique blend of dedication, conscientiousness and intellectual curiosity.

(l to r) Mia Jastrzembski, Dr. Sinjae Hyun. Photo by Leah Yetter

“Mia’s reception of the esteemed Goldwater Scholarship is a reflection of her firm dedication, intellectual insight and selflessness,” said Dr. Hyun. “Her commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and addressing the urgent healthcare challenges of our era serves as an inspiration. I have full confidence that she will continue to make substantial contributions to the field in the years ahead, serving as a leader and inspiration to others in biomedical engineering fields.”

After graduation, Jastrzembski plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, become a professor at a top research institution where she can perform impactful research and inspire the next generation of researchers. 

About the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of 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 program 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.