Eastern’s First Goldwater Scholar

Jacob Dayton pointing to world mapJacob Dayton, an Honors student majoring in Biology, has been awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for undergraduates in STEM fields who intend to pursue a Ph.D. and a research career. As stated on its website, the mission of the Goldwater Scholarship Program is to “identify and support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming this Nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields.” They are seeking students with the “potential for a significant future contribution to research in his/her chosen field.” Jacob intends to pursue a PhD in Molecular Biology, with eventual plans to conduct research in molecular and evolutionary genomics and teach at the university level.

This year 1280 students from 455 institutions were nominated for a Goldwater scholarship, and 211 were named Goldwater Scholars. According to the Goldwater Foundation about this year’s competition, “We clearly had to choose the best from among the best.” Jacob is the only student at a Connecticut institution to receive a Goldwater in 2018, and is the first Eastern student to receive the competitive scholarship. His application included the research essay “Conservation implications of the temporal changes in genetic diversity (1870s-2016) for the Endangered northwestern Atlantic population of Roseate Terms (Sterna dougallii).”

Jacob was also recently accepted into an NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at the Jackson Laboratory for this summer. Other accomplishments while at Eastern include:

  • Conducting ongoing research with Dr. Patty Szczys to study historic genetic diversity in Roseate Terns
  • Collaborating with scientists from France, Poland, and the Ukraine on the Whiskered Tern Population Genetic Structure study
  • Being listed as first author on an article in the peer-reviewed journal Waterbirds while a sophomore (with plans to submit articles to Conservation Genetics this month and to Ecology and Evolution next spring)
  • Presenting at the international Annual Meeting of the Waterbird Society, the Northeast Region-1 TriBeta Conference, and Eastern’s CREATE
  • Serving as a Research Lab Peer Mentor and as a Genetics Course Teaching
  • Participating in census counts of a Massachusetts Tern breeding colony and bird-band resightings in a staging-site metapopulation project
  • Awards: The President’s Award for Research, the Marc Freeman Scholarship (supporting a summer science research project), the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Activity Summer Research Fellowship, the Jean H. Thoresen AAUP Scholarship, and the Waterbird Society Travel Award
  • Serving as President and Secretary of Eastern’s Biology Club
  • Volunteering as a tutor at Windham Middle School

Read more about Jacob’s award.