Franke receives prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
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2018-04-02 09:33:43 - General

Mareena Franke
Mareena Franke

Coe College junior Mareena Franke has been awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, America's most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Franke is one of only 211 Goldwater Scholars chosen nationally for 2018, from a pool of 1,280 high caliber students who applied from 455 colleges and universities. Among students enrolled at Iowa higher education institutions, Franke was one of only three Goldwater awardees.

As part of the Goldwater award, Franke will receive a $7,500 scholarship. Previously, Franke received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 Goldwater Scholarship competition. Past Kohawks who have been named as Goldwater Scholars include Ben Franta in 2007 and Jack Berkowitz in 2009.

Franke is a double major in chemistry and physics, with a minor in mathematics. She was nominated for the Goldwater by the Coe Chemistry Department and the college's Goldwater Committee. Franke is a founding member of the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (WinSTEM) chapter at Coe. She is also actively involved in the chemistry and physics clubs at Coe, as well as runs in Kohawk cross country and track. In 2016, she received both the Organic Chemistry Award for Outstanding Achievement in Organic Chemistry and the Arthur Wright Erskine Physics Prize for being the top physics student, both Coe College awards.

"We are immensely proud of Mareena and her Goldwater award. Recognition as a Goldwater Scholar is one of the top honors for undergraduates in STEM fields," said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Paula O'Loughlin. "This is another testament to the high quality student learning environment at Coe, and the ways Coe can transform the lives of students."

During the application process, Franke received support and encouragement from several Coe faculty members, including Chemistry Professor Scott Stoudt, with whom she has conducted organic chemistry research, Chemistry Professor Steve Singleton, Physics Professors Steve Feller, Ugur Akgun and Firdevs Duru, and Coe Professor Amber Shaw, who also serves as Coe's national fellowship advisor. Recently, Franke collaborated with Professor Stout on a poster presentation at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting in New Orleans. In addition, Franke works with Professor Duru to digitize data from a NASA-funded research study on the ionosphere of Mars.

"I was encouraged by the Goldwater Honorable Mention last year, and worked hard on developing my research last summer so that I could present at the ACS conference," said Franke. "The second time through the process was good, because I knew what to expect. I am very grateful for everyone who supported me through the process."

Although still an underclassman, Franke has taken full advantage of the academic and research opportunities offered at Coe.

"Coe has prepared me well, especially with the research opportunities available at the college," said Franke. "I was amazed at being able to start research my first summer and the ability to explore research opportunities in both chemistry and physics."

For the summer of 2018, Franke was accepted as an SCI Scholar through the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and the American Chemical Society (ACS). The SCI Scholars Summer Internship Program was created to introduce chemistry and chemical engineering students to careers in the chemical industry. The award provides Franke with the opportunity to intern at Milliken & Company in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

In the future, Franke plans to enroll in graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in either organic or inorganic chemistry, and pursue a career as a university professor. Her research focus will center on compounds with applications in renewable energy.

"I want to use my knowledge and passion of chemistry to develop materials that could be used in the storage of energy," said Franke.

A graduate of Neenah High School, she is the daughter of Maripat and Mark Franke of Neenah, Wisconsin.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines. Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.