2009 graduate receives prestigious NSF fellowship for Ph.D. work

Posted by Centre News in Academics, Fellowships and Honors, News 21 Apr 2011

ben_gowenWhen Benjamin Gowen ’09 was named a 2011 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, his initial desire was to “run a victory lap around a particular bronze statue, but that’s quite a run from my apartment in Berkeley.”

Although he is too far from Centre College to celebrate by running The Flame, Gowen is thrilled to have received such a prestigious fellowship. The award is presented to exceptional graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.

As a recipient of the fellowship, Gowen will receive three years of support, including a $30,000 annual stipend; a $10,500 cost-of-education allowance; international research and professional development opportunities; and access to the TeraGrid Supercomputer, which integrates high-performance computers, data resources and tools and high-end experimental facilities around the country.

Gowen, who received a Goldwater Scholarship during his senior year at Centre, is currently working on his Ph.D. in the molecular and cell biology graduate program at the University of California, Berkeley (more specifically, within the immunology and pathogenesis division). He plans to begin a post-doctoral research position in another lab upon completing his Ph.D. work.

“I’d love to have my own lab one day,” he says, “but that’s far in the future.”

Gowen’s collegiate introduction to research began in a course led by Dr. Jeff Fieberg, Centre associate professor of chemistry, and it was this course that Gowen says “sparked a passion for research for me.”

“Working with Dr. Fieberg opened up opportunities at large research institutes,” he adds, “and eventually to my acceptance into Berkeley’s Ph.D. program. And the BMB major [biochemistry and molecular biology] at Centre was great preparation for the courses I took as a graduate student. In short, my experiences at Centre got me where I am today.”

And not all of these beneficial experiences took place in a science lab.

“I’m really happy that I chose Centre’s liberal arts education for my undergraduate studies,” Gowen says. “Everyone in my program at Berkeley did research and took science courses as an undergrad, but I think I’m the only one who was also able to learn about glassblowing.”

By Leigh Cocanougher

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