Junior Goldwater Scholar Cedar Mitchell talks about her experiences working in the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at NAU.

Two NAU undergraduate students, each with ambitious career goals and impressive backgrounds in disease research, were among 283 students from universities across the United States to be awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarships, a national award for students in the fields of science, math and engineering.

River Black, a biomedical science major, works in the Native American Cancer Prevention Program in Jason Wilder’s Molecular Genetics Lab. Black intends to pursue advanced degrees in pharmacogenomics and plans to participate in clinical research to improve both patient care and genetic literacy.

Cedar Mitchell and River Black

Cedar Mitchell, left, and River Black were among 283 students from universities across the U.S. to be awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarships.

Microbiology major and honors student Cedar Mitchell works in the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at NAU. She plans on pursuing a doctoral degree in epidemiology with an emphasis in international health and plans to conduct research to understand human pathogen epidemics on a global scale.

“NAU is an exceptional place for undergraduate research,” Mitchell said, adding that the support and mentoring she received, along with a push to become more independent and develop her own research proposals, nurtured the growth and experience she believes is necessary to be selected for the award.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit and research potential from a field of 1,166 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

The scholarship program, named in honor of Sen. Barry Goldwater, fosters and encourages outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Black and Mitchell each will receive $7,500 to use toward tuition, room and board, school fees and books.