Goldwater Scholarship program honors two North Central College STEM majors

Apr 14, 2015

Two North Central College students, Kori Sye ’16 of Roselle, Ill., and Jack Ryan ’16 of Oswego, Ill., have been recognized by the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship program as 2015 Honorable Mention recipients. The Goldwater Scholarship is the highest national award for undergraduate science and mathematics students and aims to encourage research careers in mathematics, science and engineering.

“This accomplishment demonstrates that our students can stand out among the very best and brightest in the country—students from large research universities, ‘Ivies’ and nationally known small private institutions,” says Perry Hamalis, Cecelia Schneller Mueller Professor of Religion, associate professor of religion and director of College Honors Programs. “Both Jack and Kori have benefited from close mentoring by our faculty, multiple opportunities to conduct research on campus, funding for conference travel, and close advising by their academic advisors.”

Sye, a chemistry major and mathematics minor, has gained experience in biochemistry research during two summers at North Central. “That experience created my desire to pursue a Ph.D. in physical chemistry and work at a national laboratory,” Sye says. This summer she will conduct research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a College Scholar and has cofounded an organization called WAVES at North Central to encourage students and other young women to pursue careers in STEM fields.

In addition, Sye learned that she won the Gladys Anderson Emerson Scholarship from the Iota Sigma Pi National Honors Society for Women in Chemistry. There are two undergraduate recipients nationwide.

“I've had a wonderful experience at North Central and I'm so thankful for all the opportunities I have been able to take advantage of,” she says. “As a chemistry major I have become connected with many professors and students.” Sye’s advisor is Jeff Jankowski, associate professor of chemistry.

Ryan is majoring in mathematics and minoring in computer science. He has also pursued research opportunities in musical theatre. During summer 2014, he traveled to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for a research project funded by the National Science Foundation. He also analyzed performance styles of theatre productions in New York City and London. He’s presenting research in both disciplines at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the College’s Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research.

On campus he’s a tutor, an ambassador in the Office of Admission and a College Scholar who studied abroad at the University of Glasgow. “I hope to go to graduate school to obtain my Ph.D. in mathematics and become a college professor, preferably at a small liberal arts school like North Central,” he says.

Katherine Heller, assistant professor of mathematics, is Ryan’s advisor. “I really love the relationships that we are able to have with faculty members here at North Central,” says Ryan. “I would like to be able to cultivate similar relationships in my professional career as a professor.”