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Two undergraduate researchers at W&M selected for elite Goldwater Scholars Program

Two William & Mary students have been named Goldwater Scholars, joining a select group of undergraduates studying the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

William & Mary’s Goldwater Scholars for 2021 are William Carlos Noel ’23 and Michelle Yue ’23.

“Over the course of the past two years, William & Mary and the world has felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lindsey Love. “These students have all adapted to crisis, finding unique mechanisms to further their research careers as they persevered through adversity -- and our incredible faculty were there to facilitate opportunities every step of the way. The students' ability to find and continue research experiences under such conditions is truly laudable and the best representation of all we have come to admire about our William & Mary students.”

Love is the university’s representative to the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation as well as senior director, of the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs.

The Goldwater Foundation awarded 417 scholarships for the 2022 competition, selected from a pool of 1,242 undergraduate nominated by 433 institutions.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986. Since the inception of the program, 9,870 undergraduates have been named Goldwater Scholars. 

William Carlos Noel 

After William & Mary, Noel plans to pursue both a M.D. and Ph.D. to be able to fully understand the real-life implications of scientific investigation. He hopes to focus his studies and research on molecular biology and work as a physician, conducting research in the biomedical sciences on medical conditions that chiefly impact marginalized populations (such as Sickle cell disease, HIV).

He joined the lab of William & Mary biologist Shantá Hinton as a freshman, eager to get involved in research. He said that he was drawn to Hinton’s lab because of its innovation in the underexplored topic of the protein MK-STYX and its emphasis on diversity in science.

William Carlos Noel '23 (Photo by Stephen Salpukas)While at William & Mary, he developed a survey to assess quality of life and self-care in Black survivors of select cancers and completed a literature review related to survivorship for cancer survivors with an emphasis on Black survivors. The survey was designed to fill critical scientific gaps about Black survivors’ risk factors and behaviors to inform strategies that can be tested in future trials.

He also founded the William & Mary chapter of MindVersity, a mental health organization with an emphasis on BIPOC populations; is a member of the Gentlemen of the College, the oldest all-male a cappella group at W&M; worked as a medical scribe at Pariser Dermatology and worked on projects related to race and reconciliation in the campus and greater Williamsburg communities through Branch Out.

“Carlos grasps complicated biochemical and signal transduction concepts very well,” a W&M faculty member wrote in support of his nomination. “In combination with his critical analysis and further commitment his project could make significant contributions to the scientific field and society.”

Michelle Yue

Yue aspires to be a physician-scientist. Upon graduating, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences or bioengineering and an M.D. with a focus on obstetrics and gynecology. She plans to conduct basic and translational research to develop solutions for biomedical problems related to reproductive health and teach at the university level.

In particular, she would like to conduct research investigating the role of genetic and epigenetic factors on fertility and fetal development in order to develop therapeutic strategies to promote maternal and fetal health during pregnancy. She is also interested in using research to improve reproductive outcomes for women facing infertility by increasing the effectiveness and accessibility of assisted reproductive technologies.

Michelle Yue '23 (Courtesy photo)She has worked as a student researcher in the developmental biology laboratory of Margaret Saha, Chancellor Professor of Biology at William & Mary. There she investigated biomedically relevant questions related to embryonic and fetal development, helping spark her professional research interests.

She also competed 12-week summer internship in George Church’s laboratory at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and is first-author on a peer-reviewed article published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience.

“I cannot think of a better student for this prestigious award,” one W&M faculty member wrote in support of her nomination. “Michelle is an academically superb student, a dedicated and passionate researcher, a mature and compassionate individual and intensely interested in a career in medicine. She has an impressive academic record and even more impressive record in terms of service to others.”