Sam Epstein '19 Awarded Goldwater Scholarship
The chemistry major and biochemistry concentrator is one of 221 students from across the country chosen for the premiere undergraduate science scholarship of its kind.
Junior Sam Epstein has been awarded a 2018/2019 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. The program, which was designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics, is the premiere undergraduate science scholarship of its kind.
The chemistry major and biochemistry concentrator is one of this year's 221 Goldwater Scholars selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,280 students nominated by campus representatives from over 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide. These awards fund the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 a year.
Epstein, who hails from Bellmore, N.Y., has thrived in Haverford's science program, conducting his own independent research, which utilizes vibrational spectroscopy techniques to study the molecular interactions of proteins, since the beginning of his College career.
"After getting involved in research at Haverford as a first-year while shadowing a senior who was working on her thesis in the chemistry department, I fell in love with biochemistry," said Epstein. "[I] was encouraged by the support I saw from my professors, Lou Charkoudian and Casey Londergan, to help me design and implement an independent research project of my own."
Additional work he's undertaken with Charkoudian includes developing and implementing a metadata-based method to catalog biosynthetic gene clusters—an important project that will enable scientists to better utilize existing experimental results and computational data that lack a coherent storage system. His outstanding scientific research and classwork has earned him the John Parker Hanson 1961 Memorial Scholarship for Excellence in the Sciences at Haverford, a 2016 Koshland Integrated Natural Science Center Summer Scholars Fellowship, and recognition as a 2015 Intel Science Talent Search Finalist and Research Report Badge Recipient.
Epstein, who eventually plans to pursue a biochemistry Ph.D., will spend this summer working in Charkoudian's lab, continuing the vibrational spectroscopy research on proteins that will eventually become his senior thesis.
"The proteins I am studying are crucial to the systems microorganisms use to develop many medically relevant compounds, used as life-saving antibiotics and anti-cancer agents," he said.
In addition to his scientific interests, he is also very politically engaged. He is the incoming co-head of the Haverford College Democrats, a Swing Left College Fellow, and a lead student organizer on the local U.S. Congressional campaign for Molly Sheehan '07, a medical researcher with a Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics. Epstein believes that scientists' engagement in the political process is of paramount importance.
"I am most hopeful that this scholarship will give me a platform," he said, "even if it is a small one, to talk about the cool research I've been a part of and to advocate the need for scientists to be more involved in their communities by engaging in local politics and organization."