Matthew Thompson named a 2018 Goldwater Scholar

image of Matthew Thompson

Brittany Moseley | May 21, 2018

Matthew Thompson is one of 211 undergraduate students from across the country who was selected as a 2018 Goldwater Scholar. The senior biochemistry and theater major will receive up to $7,500 for his final year at Case Western Reserve University to help cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Megan Masterson, a senior majoring in astronomy and mathematics and physics received an Honorable Mention. (Students who are nominated who do not receive a scholarship but who show exceptional promise may receive an Honorable Mention.)

Thompson attributes the win to his research experience, specifically in the lab of Dr. Drew Adams, assistant professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences. He began working in Dr. Adams’ lab in May 2015. “My current project seeks a novel therapy capable of reversing the progression of Huntington’s Disease, which is a fatal, inherited neurodegenerative disorder,” Thompson said.

Besides being named a Goldwater Scholar, Thompson was also selected as a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellow by the American Chemical Society, and will visit Pfizer’s research laboratories this summer and present his work to their scientists. He will also present his research on Huntington’s Disease at the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation’s 2018 Symposium in June. He also plans to continue working in Dr. Adams’s lab this summer.

“Every day I’m in the lab, the work I do brings us one step closer to a better understanding of how Huntington’s Disease works and, even more importantly, one step closer toward developing new, better therapies than those currently on the market,” he said. “The tangible, patient-centered goal of our research is what keeps me motivated when experiments aren’t working, or I’ve hit a dead end with a certain angle of the project that I’ve been pursuing.”

In his recommendation letter to the Goldwater Foundation, Dr. Adams wrote, “Beyond academics, Matt brings a very calm, warm personality to his work and his interactions with lab members and collaborators... His commitment to research is clear and durable, and his interest in further training in chemical biology sets the stage for future research toward novel therapeutics that will make full use of his dual degrees. Matt’s intellectual level, work ethic, and collaborative personality have driven his success in research in his time in my lab and ensure his future success as a scientist.”

Thompson is active in several on-campus organizations, including Phi Delta Epsilon, Players’ Theatre Group, and Speakeasy. He also served as an orientation leader. After graduating next year, he plans to attend medical school and continue his research work. “I’d like to continue to work within the field of drug discovery for neurodegenerative disease,” Thompson said. “I hope that as a physician I’ll be able to translate my findings from the lab into a clinical setting by leading clinical trials of novel therapies.”

Students interested in applying for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship or other national fellowship and scholarship awards should review such opportunities posted by the Office of Undergraduate Studies and be in touch with Dean Amanda McCarthy, the undergraduate fellowship and scholarship advisor. Dean McCarthy is available to work with interested applicants on developing their credentials and applications, provide campus endorsement support as applicable, and hosts information session and workshops throughout the academic year in order to assist students in fellowship/scholarship endeavors.