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Two chemistry undergraduates named Goldwater Scholars

Four undergraduates in the College of Science and Engineering, including chemistry students Nathan Klein and Sammy Shaker, have been named 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The prestigious, competitive scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The scholarship awards up to $7,500 per year for two years of undergraduate study. Three of the Scholars are juniors, and one is a sophomore. All are enrolled in the University Honors Program.

Nathan Klein

Nathan Klein of Lakeville, MN, is majoring in chemistry and mathematics, and plans to complete a doctorate in analytical chemistry. As a professor at a research university, he intends to develop analytical techniques that will help to solve problems in public health, particularly issues related to allergic responses. Educated at home, he began taking courses in math and chemistry at the University of Minnesota at age 14. With his sister, he developed a summer science program for kids. In the future, he hopes to inspire college students to be excited about science and to become scientifically literate citizens.

Klein works in the lab of Professor Christy Haynes on heat-mediated drug release from inorganic nanoparticles, where he is developing a new method to analyze cellular internalization of inorganic nanoparticles using electron microscopy. He has also conducted research on heterocyclic Diels-Alder reactions in the lab of Professor Wayland Noland.

Nathan has great scientific instincts and is creative, said Professor Haynes. “One recent illustration of Nathan’s creativity is that he had a great idea about using dark field imaging with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to analyze some complex samples in my lab. He first brought up this unusual imaging modality approximately four months ago—right after he was trained on this instrument. His instincts were right. It turns out that we can use dark field mode on the TEM to look for strongly-diffracting nanoparticles in what would otherwise be extremely noisy environments such as tissue, cells, and natural organic matter. Since his initial suggestion, he and his graduate student mentor, Katie Hurley, have implemented this technique to analyze bacteria samples, tumor slices, and silver nanoparticles in natural organic matter, making contributions to both his own project and those of others in my research group. A manuscript in which Nathan is a co-first author was accepted for publication in Analytical Chemistry. Very few people use dark field in general, and no one has used it on biological samples before—this opens up a lot of new, exciting possibilities based on Nathan's scientific instincts,” she said.

Klein is a National Merit Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a member of the University of Minnesota unicycle club. His awards include the Robert C. Brasted Memorial Fellowship, the Gayle W. McElrath Memorial Scholarship, ADC Scholarship, and an Undergraduate Research Scholarship.  

Sammy Shaker

Sammy Shaker of Roseville, MN, is majoring in chemistry and mathematics and plans to earn both a doctor of medicine and a doctorate in inorganic materials chemistry. He has been taking classes and conducting research since coming to the university four years ago through the state’s Post-Secondary Education Options. He plans to combine his training in medicine and chemical research to address medical problems through the development of bio-composites as a faculty member at a research university.

While still in high school, Shaker began doing research at the University of Minnesota with Mathematics Professor Duane Nykamp modeling neural networks. Since his freshman year, he has worked in the lab of Professor Andreas Stein to develop templates for synthesizing porous and nanostructured materials. He has also worked with Mathematics Professor David Clark to solve a problem of error-correcting codes, and with Professor Robert Tranquillo to analyze particle image velocimetry for a tissue-engineered heart valve. Recently, he has been working on a project for abdominal ultrasounds in the context of cholecystitis with Dr. Brian Driver at HCMC.

One of his recent projects in Professor Stein's laboratory has involved the morphology control of porous, redox active metal oxides for solar thermochemical water splitting. This work has resulted in a publication in the journal Inorganic Chemistry, with Sammy as one of the co-authors, said Stein

A National Merit and Presidential Scholar, Sammy has earned a number of awards, scholarships and fellowships while at the university, including National Merit Scholar-Walgreens Corporation, Bentson Family Scholar, Winchell Excellence in Science Award, Gold Scholarship, Presidential Scholarship, CRC Freshman Chemistry Award, CHEM 1021 General Chemistry Award, Jane B. Spence Scholarship, M. Cannon Sneed Scholarship, J. Lewis Maynard Award, ACS DIC Travel Award, and an Undergraduate Research Scholarship. He is active in the Shotokan Karate Club and the Al-Madinah Cultural Center.

Additional scholars

In addition to these chemistry Goldwater Scholars, Catherine Meis, who participated in the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center Research Experiences for Undergraduates last summer, was also named a scholar. She is a materials engineering major at Iowa State University and participated in the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center Research Experiences for Undergraduates last summer. In Professor Theresa Reineke’s laboratory, she worked on block copolymer synthesis and assembly for DNA delivery applications. Catherine wants to earn a doctorate in materials science and engineering, focusing on biomedical applications of materials.

The College of Science & Engineering’s other two Goldwater Scholars are John O’Leary, a computer science major from Mendota Heights, MN, and Andrew Senger, a mathematics major from Lake Elmo, MN.

About the Goldwater Scholar Program

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. This year, 260 scholars were selected nationwide from a field of more than 1200 students who were nominated by their colleges and universities. Each institution may nominate up to four students.

Since the inception of the program, 59 undergraduates at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, have been named Goldwater Scholars.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities students who are interested in applying for the scholarship in the future may consult the Office of National and International Scholarships by visiting or by contacting Timothy Jones at

Photos of Nathan Klein and Sammy Shaker