N.C. A&T Biology Student Richards Named 2021 Goldwater Scholar

By Jackie Torok / 04/13/2021 Academic Affairs, College of Science and Technology, Biology

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (April 13, 2021) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University junior Rachel Richards has been selected as a 2021 Goldwater Scholar.

Named for Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater Scholarship Program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. A federally funded program and the preeminent undergraduate award of its type, it includes benefits up to $7,500 for up to two years of eligible educational expenses as well as the lifetime opportunity to participate in a lifetime network of STEM researchers.

Richards is the first North Carolina A&T student chosen since spring 2014 for the honor and the third in the university’s history. A&T is one of only two historically Black colleges and universities with a 2021 Goldwater Scholar.

Richards, of Cornelius, North Carolina, is a member of the university’s 2018 inaugural cohort of Cheatham-White Scholars and is an active member of the University Honors Program. While pursuing her B.S. in biology, she is participating in undergraduate research through the Maximizing Access to Research Careers grant program. Her goal is to earn a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology, as well as certification in public health, to conduct research that leads to innovative, effective and safe treatments for infectious diseases.

A full-time Learning Assistant Program participant at A&T since August 2019, Richards has held internships as a student researcher at Tufts University School of Medicine. She also participated virtually during summer 2020 as an undergraduate student researcher at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and continued her own research at A&T, which she has taken part in since fall 2018 with Liesl Jeffers-Francis, Ph.D.

Richards is also an ACT/SAT tutor for the Dowdy Test Prep Initiative and has served as a student volunteer for Piedmont Health Services and Sickle Cell Agency.

“Of the 410 students who were selected as 2021 Goldwater Scholars, Rachel is one of the 291 scholars who are majoring in the natural sciences,” said Margaret I. Kanipes, Ph.D., A&T Honors Program director. “Her continued demonstration of academic excellence is matched by her determination to increase inclusion and diversity in the biomedical research field.”

Richards – along with fellow third-year Cheatham-White Scholar and biology student Anjali Kumari and second-year SciTech Scholar and chemistry student Jayda Yancey – were endorsed to apply for the 2021 Goldwater Scholarship through NCAT Extraordinary Opportunities after review by the university’s 2020-21 Goldwater Scholarship Commitee.

“Many students who apply for the Goldwater Scholarship go on to apply for additional externally funded extraordinary opportunities such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates and Cambridge Scholarships, as well as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program,” said Alsace-Lorraine Gallop, A&T’s National Scholarships and Fellowships Coordinator and Fulbright Program Adviser. “Rachel, Anjali and Jayda each applied for Goldwater endorsement in their first year of eligibility, and I hope more Aggies follow in their footsteps.”

Nadine Jansen, A&T’s 2013 Goldwater Scholar, and Kris Wiedenheft, A&T’s 2014 Goldwater Scholar, were each later selected for the NSF GRFP grant for their postgraduate studies.

NCAT Extraordinary Opportunities is recruiting eligible A&T STEM undergraduates who will not graduate before May 2023 for the 2022 Goldwater Scholarship.


Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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