BATON ROUGE — LSU has nominated four Ogden Honors students for the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Kelsey Olson, of Zachary; Raleigh Goodwin, of Lake Charles; Corey Matyas, of Dahlonega, Georgia; and Katie Davis, of Frisco, Texas; will compete with students from universities across the country for the chance to be named a 2018 Goldwater scholar.

Students are selected through an internal competition evaluated by LSU STEM faculty.

“This year, LSU had the highest number of interested applicants in over 10 years,” said Drew Lamonica Arms, director of the Office of Fellowship Advising.

Goldwater scholars are awarded one- and two-year $7,500 stipends to pursue undergraduate research in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering. To apply for the scholarship, students must submit a research essay that demonstrates their interest and ability in these fields. Goldwater scholarships are widely considered one of the most prestigious undergraduate awards available to students of the STEM.

Olson is a junior studying biological sciences in the College of Science. Her research focuses on the effect of obesity on pre-eclampsia. Olson has worked with Associate Professor Leanne Redman, at Pennington Biomedical, and Assistant Professor Jennifer Sones, at the School of Veterinary Medicine, during her research career at LSU. She is looking into the effect of inflammatory factors, specifically those involved in the complement pathways, produced by excess white adipose tissue, or fat, on the etiology of preeclampsia. Then she will analyze how calorie restriction to reduce white adipose tissue deposition, or fat deposits, affects the expression of these complement factors before pregnancy and at the maternal-fetal interface in early pregnancy.

“Being able to contribute to the research going on surrounding developmental programming and its role in preeclampsia has been an incredible experience,” she said. “My mentors, Dr. Redman and Dr. Sones, have opened so many doors for me, as well as teaching me how to become independent in my research. The professors I have had at LSU have also stepped forward to give advice about pursuing research and a perspective on what it truly entails.

"I have been so lucky to be surrounded by people who have made every effort to foster my education and future career.”

After graduation, Olson plans to pursue a doctorate in developmental biology and pursue research in women’s health and pregnancy disorders, particularly pre-eclampsia.

Goodwin is a junior studying cognitive psychology in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her research, under Assistant Professor Jason Harman, analyzes the relationship between persuasive techniques and instances of behavioral responses among participants. Goodwin has since developed an experiment that she will conduct for her honors thesis.

“The most exciting aspect of my research is its potential real-world application, especially in reference to the way the Louisiana government and coastal scientists communicate the problem of coastal erosion both to Louisiana citizens and its policymakers,” she said.

“If we can learn more about how to effectively convey coastal erosion to residents and state representatives — in a way that instills an appropriate sense of importance and urgency, but also a greater will to engage in proactive behaviors — perhaps we can begin to work together more effectively to fully address the problem.”

After graduation, Goodwin plans to pursue a doctorate in decision science, a subfield of cognitive psychology. She hopes to conduct research in behavioral economics, risk-assessment, and persuasion and teach at the university level.

Editor's Note: This story was changed on March 16 to correct the hometown of Raleigh Goodwin.