Three Michigan Tech Students Named Goldwater Scholars

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Academically, Michigan Tech is batting 1,000. All three of the University's nominees for prestigious Goldwater Scholarships this year are winners of the 2009 awards.

John Mark Gubatan, Hansen Nordsiek and Eli Vlaisavljevich, all third-year students at Michigan Tech, were named Goldwater Scholars by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Gubatan is a biochemistry and molecular biology major with a double minor in French and Spanish. Nordsiek is majoring in physics, and Vlaisavljevich is a biomedical engineering major.

Although Michigan Tech has produced a number of Goldwater Scholars in previous years, this is the first time the University has had more than one winner in any given year.

Goldwater scholarships--established by Congress to honor the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater--are based on academic merit, research experience, and an intent to pursue a career in science, engineering or mathematics. Colleges and universities nominate students for the scholarships, which cover up to $7,500 in tuition and fees.

"The Goldwater is one of the more prestigious scholarships you can win as an undergraduate in science, engineering or math," said Will Cantrell, associate professor of physics and Michigan Tech faculty representative for the program. "It is highly competitive."

The Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation received 1,079 nominations this year and awarded 278 scholarships. Other winners in Michigan include four students at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, four at Hope College and three at Michigan State University.

"Goldwater Scholars usually go on to do very well at getting NSF (National Science Foundation), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), DoE (Department of Energy) and other graduate fellowships," Cantrell noted.

John Mark Gubatan
With his eye on a career as a physician-scientist, Gubutan has already conducted cutting-edge research at some of the nation's premier research institutions. As a Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program (SHURP) student at Harvard Medical School last summer, he investigated the role of bone-regulatory cells in supporting blood-forming stem cells. The previous summer, he worked in the Summer Medical and Research Training (SMART) program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he characterized the immune response to a novel vaccine with Toll-like receptor ligands, which are microbial proteins that activate the innate immune system. He spent the 2006-07 academic year working in research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health under the University of Guam's Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE). Recently he was named a 2009 Amgen Scholar and will be conducting stem cell research this summer under the scholarship at Stanford University School of Medicine.

A native of Guam, Gubatan is also the recipient of the Michigan Tech National Achievement Scholarship, the Dave S. Adams Scholarship and the Ted Rozsa Scholarship. He aspires to become a leader in the field of stem cell biology and develop adult stem cell-based therapies to combat cancer and degenerative diseases.

"I attribute my success to the guidance of my many amazing research mentors across the nation," he says. "They all have been instrumental in providing me with challenging research projects that have fostered my ability to think critically and creatively."

Hansen Nordsiek
An active member and officer of the Society of Physics Students, Nordsiek was inducted this year into Sigma Pi Sigma, a physics honor society. He also received the Stephen Bryan Floro Memorial Scholarship,

Nordsiek wants to study fluid dynamics or atmospheric sciences--"or somewhere in between"--in graduate school. He credits physics professor Raymond Shaw with helping shape his future plans. Nordsiek has been conducting research with Shaw on water droplet dynamics in clouds since his first year at Michigan Tech.

After graduate school, Nordsiek would like to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship or two and then become a university professor, doing both research and teaching.

A member of the Power Donkeys IRHC Broomball team at Tech this year, Nordsiek hails from Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Eli Vlaisavljevich
A defenseman on Michigan Tech’s hockey team, Vlaisavljevich has twice been named to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Academic Team. He made the 4.0 GPA Dean’s List every semester and received the John MacInnes Slide Rule Award for scholastic achievement in 2008. He comes from Shoreview, Minn.

Vlaisavljevich has conducted research with Rupak Rajachar, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, under a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. "He has been one of the many positive influences I have had at Michigan Tech," Vlaisavljevich says of Rajachar. "He taught me a lot about his own research, the research field in general and the different opportunities that are available for my future."

Vlaisavljevich was invited to give a platform research presentation at the 2008 Biomedical Engineering Society conference. He has been accepted to present research at the 2009 Design of Medical Devices conference this month and the ASME Bioengineering conference in June.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.