George Walters-Marrah was awarded a 2018 Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious honor that recognizes exceptional research work by undergraduate sophomores and juniors in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. This year’s pool was narrowed down from a field of 1,280 students nominated from more than 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide.
Established by Congress in 1986, Goldwater Scholarships reward students with up to $7,500 per year. Recent recipients have gone on to receive Rhodes Scholarships, Marshall Awards, Churchill Scholarships and Hertz Fellowships, among other distinguished awards.
Walters-Marrah, a biotechnology and molecular microbiology major at the University of Central Florida, was named as a scholar as a result of his research on Mycobacterium abscessus (Mab), an environmental mycobacteria often found in bodies of water and decomposing vegetation.
“I’m very honored to actually get this scholarship,” Walters-Marrah says. “I’ve heard a lot about the prestige of the Goldwater Scholarship. It is a magnet for other opportunities.”
Walters-Marrah is a McNair Scholar, Stokes Scholar, and was selected to participate in a National Science Foundation-funded research experience for undergraduate students at the University of Chicago. His involvement in three different research projects since his freshman year has secured him multiple small grants, as well as a spot on UCF’s Student Undergraduate Research Council. He is also an undergraduate research assistant in Kyle Rohde’s lab at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. His current research is seeking to discover virulence factors that allow Mab to persist in the body, avoid clearance by the immune system, and resist antibiotic therapy.
In the past two years, the UCF McNair Program has produced two Goldwater Scholars.