Barry Goldwater scholarship & excellence in education foundation.Two outstanding College of Arts and Sciences students have earned a prestigious Goldwater distinguished scholarship for 2022-23. This nationally competitive award supports high-achieving undergraduates intending to pursue careers in math, the natural sciences, or engineering (STEM).

Thomas Ballinger, a junior from Reno, Nevada, is a double major in music and genetics and cell biology.

A young man sitting at a piano.
Thomas Ballinger

He is in the Students Targeted Toward Advanced Research Studies (STARS) program in the School of Molecular Biosciences (SMB), which allows undergraduates to earn an accelerated Bachelor of Science degree in three years—including research rotations and mentorship—and move into a doctorate path. He envisions a career investigating aging as well as synthetic biology.

A National Merit Scholar, Ballinger said he chose to attend WSU because it “had everything I wanted and more, so it didn’t make sense to go anywhere else,” he said. “It’s been really good so far but it’s a lot busier than I thought college would be. My favorite thing is that there are ample opportunities for undergraduate research and there are professors and graduate students who are interested in teaching me lab techniques and preparing me to be a scientist. Receiving the Goldwater award is a great honor and will make a real difference to my education.”

His mentors include SMB’s Cynthia Hazeltine; Vice Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Achievement William B. Davis; the Institute of Biological Chemistry’s Philip D. Bates; the School of  Music’s Yoon-Wha (Yuna) Roh; and his Reno piano teacher Jeff DePaoli.

John Bussey

John Bussey, a sophomore from Olympia, is an Honors College student majoring in materials science and engineering, minoring in mathematics and environmental and resource economics, and seeking a graduate certificate in nuclear materials. His summer internship is at the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is studying materials for safe disposal of nuclear waste. This work continues his quest to better understand materials involved in nuclear waste storage in order to safeguard human health and the environment.

He is a WSU Distinguished Regents Scholars and his undergraduate research mentors include John McCloyMarc Weber, and Jacob Leachman at WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and Brian Wright at Olympia High School.

“Receiving the Goldwater is certainly an honor for me, plus it recognizes that environmental sustainability is a critical issue for our collective future that requires advanced research. It’s a vindication of the work I’ve been doing,” said Bussey. “I’m excited to see what the next few years of my education hold, and the Goldwater enables me to double down on my efforts.”

Ongoing tradition

“WSU has established a strong set of Goldwater awardees over the years, and the addition of this year’s recipients reinforces that tradition,” said April Seehafer, director of the WSU Distinguished Scholarships Program within the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA).

With the addition of Ballinger and Bussey, and Kalli Stephens—who is also studying genetics and cell biology—WSU’s total number of Goldwater recipients rises to 48.

By Beverly Makhani, WSU Insider