Two Students Named Goldwater Scholars

By Jacqui Cash

TAMPA, Fla. (April 1, 2010) - Two undergraduate students at the University of South Florida have become the university’s first selected for one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarship programs. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program has announced that Juan Baso and Amber Schmidt are two of the 278 Goldwater Scholars for the 2010-2011 academic year.

The 2010-2011 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,111 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. This highly-competitive scholarship program fosters and encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Baso is a junior majoring in chemistry and has earned several other academic distinctions, including the U.S. President’s Award for Educational Excellence and the American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Fellowship. He plans to earn a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry and work in oncological therapeutics drug discovery and design with the goal of developing new drugs for cancer patients that better target cancer cells with minimal or no damage to non-carcinogenic cells.

Schmidt is a junior majoring in biology with a minor in public health. She is an immunology research intern at Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute where she is studying the progression of Myelodysplastic Syndrome to Acute Myeloid Leukemia. In addition to her academic pursuits, Schmidt is the founder and president of Women in Need Foundation, a USF service organization that provides bags of toiletries to women in domestic violence shelters. After graduating from USF, she plans to earn an MD and Ph.D. and continue research in immunology.

Both students graduated from Tampa Bay area high schools: Baso graduated from Jefferson High School and Schmidt graduated from Plant City High School. Baso and Schmidt are both students in the USF Honors College and received significant support and guidance from the USF Office of National Scholarships. The office works closely with students to help them develop their national scholarship profile for consideration in highly competitive and selective programs such as the Goldwater. Baso and Schmidt were nominated by the university after a rigorous internal faculty review process.

“The achievements of Amber and Juan are an indication of USF’s rising status among premier research universities that truly care about providing undergraduate students with opportunities to engage in research that is usually reserved for graduate students. Earning a national scholarship is recognition of the countless hours they have committed to their scholarly pursuits in the classroom and the laboratory. I am confident this is just the beginning of a lifetime of academic and professional distinction for Amber and Juan. USF is proud to have them as part of the student body,” said Ralph Wilcox, Provost and Executive Vice President at USF.

In the 2010-2011 class of Goldwater Scholars, 156 are men and 122 are women. Virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. In keeping with the purpose of the program, 17 of the scholars are mathematics majors, 199 are science and related majors, 53 are majoring in engineering, and nine are computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines.

Goldwater Scholars have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships, 105 Marshall Awards, 90 Churchill Scholarships (nine of the 14 awarded in the United States in 2010), and numerous other distinguished fellowships. In its 24-year history, the foundation has awarded 6,079 scholarships worth approximately $58 million. The trustees plan to award about 300 scholarships for the 2011–2012 academic year.



The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.