Sydney Porto ’24 Named a Goldwater Scholar

Share story

Sydney Porto ’24, an aspiring physician-scientist at Harvey Mudd College, is the recipient of a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious national award for undergraduate STEM researchers. The award for undergraduate U.S. sophomores and juniors covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year.

Since summer 2022, Porto has worked in the lab of Michael J. Lee in the Department of Systems Biology at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. “My project is focused on understanding mechanisms of lethality in non-small cell lung cancer cells following the application of growth factor targeted therapies,” she says. She will continue work in the Lee Lab this summer.

Porto, a chemistry and biology major with a classics concentration, also conducted research at Harvey Mudd during her sophomore year in the Schulz Lab. Danae Schulz, associate professor of biology, studies the African trypanosome to understand the changes that occur when the parasites go from expressing the variable protein in mammals to the invariant protein in flies. With Hannah Betts ’23, Porto tested an endogenous overexpression method that could potentially be used in future genetic screens.

Schulz says, “I’ve known Sydney since she was a first-year student at Harvey Mudd, and I was immediately impressed with her intellect, drive and dedication. She is a delight to work with in the lab; she’s curious and purposeful while performing experiments, and she is able to work through technical difficulties without becoming discouraged. This resilience is essential for someone taking on the difficult career path she aspires to.”

In addition to her time in the lab, Porto works at the Harvey Mudd Writing Center as an Academic Excellence biology tutor. After HMC, she plans to pursue an M.D./PhD in the field of cancer biology. “Ultimately, I hope to have a career as a physician-scientist where I can conduct clinically relevant research in the field of oncology,” she says.

About the Goldwater Fellowship

This year, 413 Goldwater scholarships were awarded from a candidate pool of 1,267 natural science, engineering and mathematics sophomores and juniors nominated by 427 U.S. academic institutions.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields. All Harvey Mudd sophomores and juniors are eligible to compete for the Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded on the basis of academic merit. The HMC Department Chairs Committee nominates up to four students (among sophomores and juniors) annually.