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Three OU Students Named Goldwater Scholars

Three OU Students Named Goldwater Scholars

April 08, 2020

University of Oklahoma students Daniel Cheong, Devon Colby and Emily Thomas have been named 2020 Goldwater Scholars in a prestigious national competition that recognizes outstanding achievements in science and mathematics.

They are among 396 students nationwide to be selected this year out of more than 1,300 nominees representing 461 institutions.

Cheong, Colby and Thomas, all of whom are from Oklahoma, bring OU’s total number of Goldwater Scholarship winners to 58 since the inception of the scholarship in 1986.

“We are extremely proud of Daniel, Devon and Emily for earning the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship,” said OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Their achievements are not only a testament to their hard work and determination, but also recognize their potential as future researchers and the undeniable impact they will have on society.”

Named for former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater Scholarships are awarded to college sophomores and juniors on the basis of potential and intent to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Cheong, of Muskogee, is an engineering major who plans to obtain a doctor of medicine and doctoral degrees in biomedical imaging. He has conducted research in functional near-infrared spectroscopy with OU assistant professor of biomedical engineering Han Yuan, and has worked with Wojtek Chrzanowski at the University of Sydney, where he researched therapeutic applications of nanoparticles for lung cancer.

A National Merit Scholar, he is the president of the OU Biomedical Engineering Society and serves as a Dean’s Leadership Council mentor. Cheong is a member of the OU Honors College and has a 4.0 GPA. He was recently recognized as a 2020 Felgar Pursuit of Excellence Undergraduate and was named a BME Summer Scholar. He was awarded an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant in 2019, and he earned an IBEST Travel Fellowship in 2018.

Colby, of Oklahoma City, is majoring in life sciences with a specialization in biochemistry and plans to earn a doctorate in biochemistry. His research includes working with University of Central Oklahoma associate professor of chemistry John Bowen on detecting glyphosates in water and developing mass spectrometry techniques for tissue imaging with OU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Zhibo Yang. Colby’s research has been published in Analytical Chemistry, and he presented at the 2018 ACS Pentasectional Meeting. 

Colby volunteers with Opens Arms Clinic, is a member of the OU Symphony Orchestra and enjoys intramural tennis. Holding a 4.0 GPA, he is a member of the Honors College and is an officer of the OU Economics Club. He is the 2019 recipient of the Dick Van Der Helm Fellowship, was named an American Society for Mass Spectrometry Undergraduate and won the John Laing Undergraduate Research Award in 2018.

Thomas, of Chickasha, is an engineering major who plans to earn a doctorate in biomedical engineering and hopes to conduct research in biomaterials science. She currently conducts research on quantifying peptide conjugation with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the lab of Susan Nimmo in the OU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Additionally, Thomas has worked on quantitative techniques for assessing bioinks and has investigated spheroids for neuroinductive biomaterials with Michael Detamore, director of OU’s Stephenson School of Biomedical Engineering. 

Thomas is the outreach chair for OU’s Biomedical Engineering Society, vice president of the Scientific Undergraduate Research Association and a peer mentor for the Multicultural Engineering Society. In 2019, she was a recipient of the Astronaut Scholarship, won the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research Award and earned an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program award. She has a 4.0 GPA and is a member of the Honors College.

About the University of Oklahoma

Founded in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. OU serves the educational, cultural, economic and health care needs of the state, region and nation. For more information visit