Rachel Soble has been named a 2014 Goldwater Scholar. She is the only U of M undergraduate to receive the prestigious award this year, which goes to a select group of outstanding students planning on research-oriented careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Soble, who is majoring in genetics, cell biology and development, and computer science, plans to earn a Ph.D. in computational biology and to develop new computational frameworks for investigating microbial ecology and physiology.
Soble was selected based, in part, on her research in the lab of Dr. Jeff Gralnick (Microbiology/BTI). Her project focused on the application of a new genetic technique called Tn-seq to study interdependence in a synthetic cooperative community of bacteria, with the goal of contributing to the scientific understanding of microbial cooperation.
“Rachel is an extraordinary student,” says Gralnick. “Her passion for science and discovery are complemented by her tremendous work ethic, intelligence and knack for benchwork. She has a bright scientific career ahead of her!”
Soble has also worked on computational biology projects in Dr. Chad Myers’ research group. In addition, she is involved in many campus activities including Teaching SMART, a student group that teaches lessons in local schools to spark children’s interest in science.
CBS undergraduate Robin Lee, who is majoring in genetics, cell biology and development, was one of two U of M students to receive an honorable mention for the scholarship. Lee conducted research with Dr. Craig Eckfeldt and Dr. David Largaespada on the pathways of growth in NRAS, a gene that frequently mutates causes abnormal growth in acute myeloid leukemia. Over several summers in high school and college, he engaged in neurobiology, genetics, and cancer research at the University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea. His first-authored articles have been published in Gene and the Journal of Genetic Medicine. He also received an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant and along with other awards to support his research and travel to present at conferences. Lee plans to pursue a Ph.D. in genetics and hopes one day to establish an international cancer genetics research consortium.
This year, 283 Goldwater Scholars were selected nationwide from a field of more than 1,166 students nominated by their colleges and universities. Each institution many nominate up to four students. A total of 55 University of Minnesota Twin Cities undergraduates have been Goldwater Scholars since the program’s inception in 1986.