Such persistence and care paid off in March, when Newmyer was awarded the 2011 Goldwater Scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. The award is widely regarded as the highest honor for undergraduate students in the sciences. The scholarship provides up to $7,500 a year for educational expenses. Competition for the award is intense. Other institutions represented in the list of this year’s recipients include Yale, Harvard and the University of Virginia.
“Brandon Newmyer is the embodiment of taking advantage of opportunities,” says J. Orion Rogers, dean of RU’s College of Science and Technology. “He has earned the highest honor ever bestowed upon a science student at Radford University. His mentor, Dr. Cline, is an example of a faculty member who helps students find their passion in learning and go places they never imagined they could go. This achievement is tangible evidence that Radford University is a destination for motivated students to learn from extraordinary faculty members and to achieve success they never dreamed was possible.”
From the first semester of his freshman year, Newmyer worked shoulder to shoulder with Cline studying neurotransmitters that could regulate appetite. “You’re doing research that’s never been done,” Newmyer says. “We’re not replicating experiments. The research we publish is novel information. Maybe someday a scientist will use my information to help create obesity treatments.”
Newmyer is one of about 30 undergraduate students since 2005 who have conducted research under Cline’s tutelage. Typically a single student is assigned to a study, and several studies are conducted simultaneously. Each study is focused on a particular neurotransmitter or hormone and how it influences several appetite-related processes.
During his three years at RU, Newmyer has published seven articles in middle-tier peer-reviewed journals. He was first author for three of them — a rare accomplishment for an undergraduate student, Cline says. “It’s not so uncommon for a student to work in a lab, usually at a large university, contribute a little something to a project and then have their name slapped on the work after the professor writes it. Here at RU the students are designing the experiments, conducting them and writing up the work themselves.”