Paloma Ruiz ’22 Wins Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship
March 31, 2021
The Goldwater Scholarship Program, named for former U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater, is one of the oldest and most prestigious scholarships in the fields of natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Recipients are college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the following:
- Strong commitment to a research career in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering
- Academic excellence in these fields
- Strong potential for significant future contributions to research in their chosen field
Recipients must be nominated by their academic institution in order to be considered for the Goldwater Scholarship. This year, more than 1200 students were nominated for consideration, with 410 ultimately selected for the award. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 a year to help recipients cover costs associated with tuition, mandatory fees, books, room and board.
Ruiz has been an active member of Carolina’s research community since her first year on campus. For the past two years, she has worked in the Strahl Lab in the UNC School of Medicine, where she studies epigenetics. Last summer, she participated in the highly-selective Broad Summer Research Program through the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Through this program, she conducted a computational research project on cancer biology, which led to a publication in Cancer Cell in January 2021.
Ruiz has presented her research at two national conferences – the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) – and has earned a spot on the Dean’s List every semester of her undergraduate career.
Ruiz is also passionate about giving back to the UNC student body through active engagement in student organizations. She is currently an ambassador for the UNC Department of Biology and president of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, and has held previous positions as a Resident Advisor with Carolina Housing, Lieutenant Governor in the Residence Hall Association’s Community Government body, and volunteer with Mi Pueblo UNC. Ruiz has also served as a STEM mentor for 8th and 9th grade students from underrepresented backgrounds through Carolina ADMIRES.
“We are so thrilled that Paloma has received this very well-deserved recognition for her extraordinary brilliance, hard work, and dedication to research,” said Dr. Thomas Freeman, executive director of the CSS program. “There’s no doubt that she will have a successful future as a research scientist.”
After she graduates from UNC, Ruiz intends to pursue a PhD in quantitative biology or genetics.