Goldwater scholars
Holly Wemple, Sophie Goldberg, and Jamie Kaplan are UR's latest Goldwater Scholars.

Three University of Richmond Students Awarded Goldwater Scholarships to Further Faculty-Mentored Science Research

Student Scholars

Scholarships Will Support Students as They Study Viruses, Pharmaceuticals, and How Climate Change Impacts Health

April 10, 2024

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Three University of Richmond students — Sophie Goldberg, Jamie Kaplan, and Holly Wemple — have received Goldwater scholarships, one of the most sought-after and prestigious undergraduate awards in science and math.

The Goldwater scholarship is open to college sophomores and juniors interested in pursuing careers and fostering excellence in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

Including these awards, UR has had 41 Goldwater Scholars since the program’s inception in 1986. This year, 438 Goldwater scholars were selected based on academic merit from a field of nearly 1,400 students nominated by 446 colleges and universities nationwide.

University of Richmond latest Goldwater scholars include:

Sophie Goldberg, a junior chemistry major from Falmouth, Maine, is researching organic chemistry focusing on small-molecule pharmaceutical design under the mentorship of chemistry professor Miles Johnson. Johnson, a UR alum who joined the faculty in 2016, received a Goldwater award when he was an undergraduate. Goldberg is Johnson’s third mentee to receive a Goldwater award.

“I hope to pursue a career in industrial organic synthesis, specifically within the pharmaceutical industry,” said Goldberg, who plans to enter a Ph.D. program following graduation. “My research is rooted in the interplay between organic molecules and transition metal complexes, which is at the forefront of small molecule drug design. This work will help develop pharmaceuticals that are both cost-effective and sustainable.”

Jamie Kaplan, a sophomore from Bedford, New York, is majoring in chemistry and researching electrochemistry, which includes developing biosensors and using halogen bonding to detect various target species.

“I’m planning to focus on virus-related disease research for my career, including how viruses attack the human body, replicate, and spread,” said Kaplan, who plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. “I want to help further the understanding of viruses by exposing patterns in infection and mechanisms between various patient populations.”

Holly Wemple, a junior from Mount Vernon, New York, is majoring in biochemistry & molecular biology. Wemple is currently researching how human health is impacted by climate change.

“Trends are showing increased rates of cancers, asthma, and heart disease due to exposure to pollutants and environmental toxins that will continue to worsen as climate change progresses,” said Wemple, a Richmond Scholar who plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. “I am interested in the pathways involved to find solutions as they arise. I believe this is an essential emerging field, and I hope to lead this growth to address mitigation strategies.”

Both Kaplan and Wemple are conducting undergraduate research under chemistry professor Michael Leopold, who has mentored nine Goldwater scholars in his more than 20 years of teaching at UR.

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