CSE Sophomore Named Goldwater Scholar

April 5, 2012

Mairin Chesney, a CSE sophomore, is one of two students from Michigan State University to be named a 2012-13 Goldwater Scholar, bringing MSU's total number of Goldwater Scholars to 32.

Chesney, of Brighton, Mich., is among the 282 undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States who were awarded the scholarship. She is a member of the Honors College.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science, and engineering students.

"This is very exciting news for the students and their research mentors," says Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the Honors College. "I am pleased that their early and distinguished commitment to scholarship is being celebrated and that their research is being recognized and indeed encouraged."

Chesney, a graduate of Brighton High School, combined her love of computer science and biology while working with professor Charles Ofria in the BEACON Center for the Study of Evolution in Action. She also has collaborated with a fellow undergraduate student to design a joint oral presentation and research poster that won first prize at the Michigan Celebration for Women in Computing Conference.

Chesney's passion for digital evolution grew from her fascination with how simple computer programs could exhibit many characteristics of life. It is because of the many fundamental evolutionary questions that remain unanswered that she plans to obtain a doctorate in computer science and pursue a research career in computational biology.

"Research has been one of the most unexpectedly wonderful parts of college, and I am happy to be able to continue," says Chesney, who is also a 2011-12 Von Ehr Scholar. The James Von Ehr Scholars Program was established in 2006 by James R. Von Ehr II, a 1972 computer science graduate and entrepreneur. The $1 million endowed scholarship fund benefits undergraduates of the College of Engineering.

She is the daughter of David and Jean Chesney.

Craig Pearson, an MSU sophomore from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., was the other MSU student to be named a Goldwater Scholar. He is dual majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, and English.

Megan Buczkowski, a materials science and engineering junior and Honors College member, received honorable mention.

Started in 1986, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program seeks scholars committed to a career in science, mathematics, or engineering who display intellectual intensity and who have the potential for significant future contribution in their chosen field. The Goldwater Scholarship provides a grant toward the last year or two of undergraduate tuition and living expenses for students who are planning careers in research.

Complete list of 2012-13 Goldwater Scholars

More about the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program