Heather Bolstad (‘06), an Honors College graduate in the Biochemistry and Biophysics program at Oregon State University, applied for the Goldwater at the prompting of her advisor during her sophomore year. She recalls being a part of the “Goldwater Girls,” a group of four women all from the same degree program who received Goldwater Scholarships within two years of each other in 2004 and 2006.
Heather explains that receiving the Goldwater scholarship changed her life. The Goldwater scholarship allowed Heather greater time for scientific research and leadership opportunities, her true passions, and allowed her to reflect on her ultimate career goals and a trajectory for achieving them. Heather was proud to be selected and believes that applying for any scholarship or opportunity during college is a transformative learning experience.
Her advice to current students is to pursue as many opportunities as possible. Whether scholarships, internships, lab time, or leadership, college is an exciting time full of possibilities. She encourages students to use these types of experiences to explore their interests and discover their passions. “It helps you think about your goals and how you are going to get there,” Heather explained. “I applied for everything because I didn’t want to regret not trying,” she adds.
Today Dr. Heather Bolstad is a Toxicologist with expertise in pesticide risk assessment. After receiving her degree from OSU, she went on to UC Davis to earn a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology and now has what she calls her “dream job” working for the California Environmental Protection Agency. She still visits with influential professors and mentors from OSU who were monumental in helping her seek out opportunities like the Goldwater.
Taralyn “Tari” Tan (‘08), an Honors College graduate with a degree in Biochemistry and Biophysics and a minor in Psychology at Oregon State University received the Goldwater scholarship during her sophomore year. Tari recalls research experiences afforded by the Goldwater as important in shaping a love of learning, mentorship, and teaching which helped her discover a passion for the research process.
Tari recommends undergraduate students begin making connections with professors and advisors, noting “advisors and mentors can be a bridge to get you into research so that you can explore your unique interests”. To this day Tari’s undergraduate mentors are still a source of support who encourage her to pursue new ideas and opportunities.
Additionally, Tari advises current students to be flexible in what they are thinking about as a career. She herself started undergrad set on medical school as the eventual goal, but along the way research and teaching opportunities helped influence her decision to pursue a career in academia. Tari challenges students to reflect on the “why” when thinking about career options and research opportunities.
Today Dr. Taralyn Tan is completing an education postdoc as the Curriculum Fellow for Harvard Medical School’s Department of Neurobiology and the Harvard Graduate Program in Neuroscience. In this role, Tari is designing and implementing new curricula that reflects the modern landscape of neuroscience research and pedagogical best practices. She received a PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard University in 2016 and will continue to pursue a career in academia where her love of teaching and research coexist.