East Carolina University junior William Guiler, a Henrico resident, has been named a 2020 Goldwater Scholar. The designation is considered one of the most prestigious and oldest scholarships in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.
More than 5,000 college sophomores and juniors across the nation applied for the Goldwater scholarship and only 396 were awarded. Students receive scholarships of up to $7,500 a year to cover the costs of tuition, fees, books and other expenses. Goldwater alumni have won competitive graduate fellowships and pursue careers as the country’s leading scientists, mathematicians and engineers.
When Guiler found out that he was one of the 396 recipients, he called his mentors.
“This award was definitely a joint effort,” he said. “I feel tremendously grateful for winning the Goldwater Scholarship, but it would not have been possible without Drs. Todd Fraley, Blake Hutsell, Christyn Dolbier, Qun Lu, and so many others here at ECU. I have learned so much from all of them, and I have been extremely lucky and fortunate that they invested so much of their own energy, time and resources in me.”
Guiler is an Honors College student and neuroscience and psychology double major. His extensive research work at ECU helped him secure one of the scholarships.
“For a long time, I thought I wanted to do clinical work. I thought I needed to see the direct effects of my energies and efforts because in research, those effects are drastically delayed,” Guiler said. “However, I came to realize that in research, you have the potential to help and influence larger numbers of people over time, even if the effects are not immediate. In research, I can tackle problems that have never before been pondered. I can experiment and see results that have never before been seen.”
As an undergraduate student, Guiler has worked in two laboratories. On main campus, he has worked in Christyn Dolbier’s Stress and Health Lab on a mindfulness program and its effects on college students, variables related to stress and coping in college students, and how much sleep and cognitive functioning act as moderating and/or mediating factors.
On the health sciences campus, he works with Qun Lu in conjunction with the Harriet and John Wooten Laboratory for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases. They focused on using stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) to image and analyze junction proteins in healthy and cancerous cell lines.
“Over the past three years, William has created a truly exceptional college experience, and for the past six months, he worked tirelessly to craft a competitive Goldwater application. It is wonderful to see his efforts in the classroom, in the lab and in the community recognized by this prestigious award,” said Dr. Todd Fraley, associate dean of the ECU Honors College. “He is a shining example of what a motivated, collaborative and collegial young person can achieve and the impact they can have. The support he will receive from the Goldwater Foundation will be critical to his continued success.”
To be eligible for a Goldwater scholarship, students must intend to pursue a research career in natural science, mathematics or engineering. Guiler said that his future career goals are to get a doctorate in cognitive neuroscience, become a professor and conduct research using neuroimaging, computational and stimulation methods to enhance understanding of memory and intelligence.
“Winning the scholarship allows me greater financial and academic access to conduct research, not only as an undergraduate, but going forward into graduate school and beyond. It is recognition that I am passionate about research and that I am capable of pursuing research as a career,” he said.
Guiler was also selected for an internship with Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. this summer as a genetics and pharmacogenomics intern in Boston.