Sarah Tanck, CEMS and Chem undergraduate, awarded 2022 Goldwater Scholarship

Sarah Tanck, a junior majoring in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, along with Madelyn Blake, a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience and Genetics/Cell Biology in the College of Biological Sciences, have been recognized as Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. They will receive scholarships worth up to $7500 for the next academic year.  This 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.  This year 417 students were recognized as Goldwater Scholars out of 1242 nominees from 433 colleges and universities nationwide.  The University of Minnesota Twin Cities has now had 71 students recognized as Goldwater Scholars since the creation of the program in 1989.

Sarah Tanck started thinking about epidemics when her high school biology teacher in Green Bay, Wisconsin loaned her a book about Ebola. She was excited by the story of research scientists laboring to solve problems and save lives. Two years later, as a first-year student in the College of Science and Engineering, she enrolled in an Honors Seminar on infectious diseases and joined a campus lab only to have the experience curtailed by an actual epidemic. Still she persisted, participating virtually in Chemistry professor Mark Distefano’s lab and eventually joining in person to study proteins that target epithelial cell adhesion molecules. She has been involved with three research projects and has presented on her work at the national American Chemical Society conference and the regional American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) conference. On campus she is a member of the AIChE outreach committee, which organizes presentations at local schools, and a member of the Medical Reserve Corps, where she provided logistical support for COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics. Sarah plans to complete a PhD in Chemical Engineering and work at a national laboratory to develop technologies to combat viral infections.

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

For more information on the Goldwater Scholarship, visit