Two UA students win prestigious Goldwater Scholarships


Three Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program recipients from the University of Akron

Three University of Akron biomedical engineering students were recognized for their academic excellence by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program in 2014. From left, Melissa Boswell received an Honorable Mention, and Gregory Howard and Cale Crowder are Barry Goldwater Scholarships recipients this year. Fewer than 300 students nationwide received the honor.

TWO UNIVERSITY OF AKRON biomedical engineering students received prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarships this year.

The odds? One-in-15 million, according to Dr. Brian Davis, chair of UA’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, and a third received an Honorable Mention.

“It reinforces my belief that we have an incredible group of students in biomedical engineering,” Davis says, referring to the academic program’s entire student body and, in particular, to Goldwater Scholars and UA honors students Cale Crowder and Gregory Howard, as well as Melissa Boswell, who received an Honorable Mention.

These undergraduate students are among less than 300 across the country selected as recipients of the annual scholarship, which provides $7,500 toward tuition, fees, books, and room and meals to students pursuing careers in science, mathematics and engineering.

Crowder and Howard are among less than 300 undergraduate students across the country selected as recipients of the annual scholarship, which provides $7,500 toward tuition, fees, books, and room and meals to students pursuing careers in science, mathematics and engineering.

Cale Crowder

Under the wing of his father, a chemical engineer and UA alumnus, Crowder of Rootstown says he grew up destined to become an engineer. Before he graduated from Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Crowder read an article on the University’s website about UA biomedical engineering associate professor Yang Yun’s research. The story redirected Crowder’s attention from chemical to biomedical engineering and specifically targeted it on UA.

“Both of my parents attended UA. I saw the opportunities that UA provided them and I decided that UA could also help me reach my goals. My decision was also heavily influenced by Dr. Dale Mugler (dean of the Honors College) who, more or less, recruited me for the Buckingham/Orr/Ziegler Prestigious Honors Scholarship,” Crowder says, adding that Mugler also recruited him to conduct research in Yun’s lab.

At the time, Yun was looking for undergraduate researchers and Crowder, just out of high school, was seeking that experience. While he continues to work with Yun, Crowder has immersed himself in several other opportunities on and off campus, including service as:

  • a Northeast Ohio Medical University co-op employee,
  • a UA Living-Learning Community Emerging Leader,
  • a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center intern, and
  • a National Science Foundation researcher.

Crowder is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Society, National Residence Hall Honorary, Sigma Lambda Honorary and other organizations and activities throughout campus. He says he plans to eventually enroll in a doctoral program to study brain-computer interfaces — due to his interest in neuroscience and in research related to utilizing brain electrical activity patterns to control external devices.

Gregory Howard

Following the footsteps of two of his older sisters and embracing several scholarship offerings and the University’s biomedical engineering program along the way, Howard, of Austinburg, Ohio, says his decision to attend UA came easily.

“Both of my sisters had a very good experience with the University and with their respective academic programs,” he says, adding that with aid from the Honors College and local scholarships, “I have been able to go to college without my parents or myself incurring debt.”

Before matriculating at UA, Howard set his sights on pursuing a medical career. Inspired by a mentoring experience he had with a general surgeon and extracurricular activities at Northeast Ohio Medical University, Howard began with a double major: physics and biology.

“Prior to scheduling, I looked into the biomedical engineering program, saw the fascinating research being conducted by faculty, and decided to switch,” he says. “My initial investigation into faculty also led me to look into research opportunities during the first semester of my freshman year. That, in turn, led me to join Dr. Yang Yun’s lab and to come to the realization that biomedical research was for me.”

Howard describes UA as a hub of momentum, a campus community where students conduct exciting research, compete successfully against prestigious universities and make a difference in their local communities.

With active involvement in Phi Delta Theta, Tau Beta Pi, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, College of Engineering tutoring and as a resident assistant, Howard plans to pursue a doctorate in biomedical engineering.

“After receiving my Ph.D., I would like to become a professor at a university or perform research at a research institute,” he says. “Further down the road, I would like to start a biotechnology firm to translate discoveries from bench top to bedside.”

Melissa Boswell

Boswell, of Copley, was recognized with an Honorable Mention and plans to pursue a doctorate in biomechanics and teaching, with an emphasis on motion analysis and human kinetics research.

A member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, the Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society and the Biomedical Engineering Society, Boswell says she selected UA for its “standout biomedical engineering program” and opportunities to advance as a student, leader and individual. In particular, Boswell says her laboratory research work has been her most defining experience as a college student.

“My most valuable experience at UA has been my involvement in research in Dr. Brian Davis’ lab,” she says. “Working in his lab challenges me to become both a better researcher and a better student. He inspires me to use research to better the quality of life for people. I am very fortunate to be working with him.”