Maicy Vossen ’21 Named Goldwater ScholarThe junior biology major and public health minor has already published her collaborative research.
Posted on April 20th, 2020 by

Gustavus Adolphus College junior Maicy Vossen has been named the winner of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the United States’ premier undergraduate award for students pursuing research careers in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. A biology major and public health minor, Vossen is one of 396 students from across the country to receive the award.

Maicy Vossen ’21

When Vossen came to campus as a first-year student in 2017, she immediately got involved in research. At the time, the Kimball, Minn. native planned on going into medicine as an oncologist, so she approached biology professor Laura Burrack to discuss research opportunities. Burrack, a cancer researcher whose work focuses on the balance of genetic stability and adaptation, took Vossen into her lab as a First-Year Research Experience (FYRE) student.

“Maicy’s first project was following up on the cancer research of another Gustavus Goldwater winner, Katie Aney ’18,” Burrack said. “She did an incredible job of navigating the twists and turns of the scientific process. She was methodical, analytical, and careful about the data in a way that was impressive for a first-year student.”

Now a junior, Vossen’s interests have shifted to plant biology and genetics, with a particular passion for how plants evolve due to issues like climate change, atmospheric changes, and weather patterns. “I always said that I wanted to work in a greenhouse after I retired from a research career,” she explained. “Then I figured, why wait?”

“As I continued to do research with Laura, the project shifted to looking at the evolution of drug resistance and pathogens,” Vossen continued. “Every day, we were thinking about the evolution of cells in response to their conditions, so it was a natural pivot to plants and climate change for me.”

Vossen presents her research with Dr. Burrack.

For Burrack, Vossen’s choice to pursue a different research agenda is an affirmation of the liberal arts experience. “My role as a researcher at a place like Gustavus is to help students become the best possible scientists—or whatever else they decide to be,” the professor said. “Maicy has the tenacity, data analysis, writing, and mentorship skills to be a skilled professional researcher.”

The research experience has already paid off. Vossen was recently the first author on a journal article, “CaMad2 Promotes Multiple Aspects of Genome Stability Beyond Its Direct Function in Chromosome Segregation,” in Genes with Burrack, Aney, and Hanaa Alhosawi ’22.

Outside of the classroom, Vossen is a member of the Delta Phi Omega sorority, the Tri-Beta Biology Honors Society, and the Love Your Melon campus crew. She also serves as a student teaching assistant in the biology and chemistry departments and is on the planning committee and will serve as a student host for Nobel Conference 56, Cancer in the Age of Biotechnology.

Vossen is a member of the Delta Phi Omega sorority.

As a public health minor, Vossen’s transition to online courses due to the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a valuable—if unwelcome—learning opportunity. “Over the past couple months, there have been a lot of these moments where classroom learning is intersecting with real life,” she said. “In my global public health class, we talked about the burden of diseases and the disparity of care across populations, the different struggles faced in different areas. It’s surreal to learn about these things in class and see them actually happening on the news.”

The last Gustavus student to earn a Goldwater was Abby Trouth ’20, who won the award last year for her work in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic and research credentials that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 93 Rhodes Scholarships, 146 Marshall Scholarships, 170 Churchill Scholarships, 109 Hertz Fellowships, and numerous other distinguished awards like the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, according to the organization’s release.

“Being selected as a Goldwater Scholar has really made me feel affirmed in my decision to pursue research,” said Vossen, who plans to go to graduate school in plant biology. “These people who have never met me believe in me as a researcher, and that’s been really impactful.”

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


One Comment

  1. Heather Haemig says:

    Congrats, Maicy! Well-deserved honor!