Skip to main content

Desire for Research and Discovery Leads to Goldwater Scholarships for Three Purdue Students

Apr 20, 2023

Purdue University juniors Jay Fazioli, Noelle Naughton, and Abigail Soliven have been named 2023 Goldwater Scholars.

A thirst for research, discovering new ways to treat persistent illness, and solving problems through new knowledge is what propels these scholars and fuels their love of science.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes exceptional sophomores and juniors across the country, is the highest undergraduate honor of its kind. The scholarship program, in honor of Senator Barry Goldwater, was created to encourage students to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.  

For Abigail, Jay, and Noelle, the scholarship is another important step in their academic journeys.

Naughton,-Noelle.jpgNoelle Naughton

A junior from Westfield, Indiana, Noelle Naughton is studying biochemistry in the College of Agriculture. Naughton wants to see potential implications of her research both clinically and scientifically. Her enthusiasm for research in the medical field has piqued her interest in a life-long pursuit of learning and discovery.

Naughton’s path to Purdue was bolstered in high school by her interest in biochemistry and encouragement from her mentor, Jay R. Simon, professor emeritus of neurobiology at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Naughton's childhood was also a catalyst for her interest in medical research. She grew up with a sibling who struggled with health issues. Searching for medical answers is close to her heart.

“Growing up with a sister who dealt with a myriad of health issues initially sparked my path toward a career in the health realm and my decision to pursue a four-year biomedical sciences program. The knowledge I have uncovered in my research led to a creative synergy, which confirmed that research is a method to provide answers for patients like my sister.”

Continuing her research at the undergraduate level, Naughton works under mentor Mark Hall, associate professor of biochemistry at Purdue. In Hall’s lab, which she joined in the fall of her freshman year, Naughton studies fungal pathogenesis.

“As soon as Noelle set foot in my lab she impressed me with her drive and motivation to achieve excellence. She has had a clear vision from day one on what she wanted to accomplish at Purdue and where she wanted to go after. Pursuing medical research is her dream and I am confident she will achieve it,” says Mark Hall, professor in the College of Agriculture.

Naughton has also participated in summer internships at Purdue University and at the Indiana University School of Medicine studying neurofibromatosis under Steve Angus, assistant professor of pediatrics, and D. Wade Clapp, chairman of the pediatrics department and a distinguished professor. Her internship experiences alongside her undergraduate research experience at Purdue have further developed a curiosity for the unique position to investigate both clinically and scientifically relevant questions.

“I’d like to find relevant applications and solutions to medical issues so that my research can help patients,” says Naughton.

For this reason, Naughton plans to pursue an MD PhD with the goal to become a physician scientist.

“My hope is to perform cancer research but I’m open to other fields of research as well,” says Naughton.

As she continues her studies at Purdue, the Goldwater Scholarship has certainly opened other opportunities for Naughton. Opportunities for graduate school, networking with other Goldwater Scholars, and connections with mentors are some of the ways Naughton notes that the scholarship will provide her guidance as she pursues her academic and professional goals.

An avid sports fan, violinist in the Purdue Philharmonic Orchestra, and volunteer for the Biochemistry Club Outreach Program, Naughton is an active and engaged college student with an impressive resume. She is a 2022 Martin Agricultural Research Scholar, 2022 Ray W. Fuller Memorial Scholar, was named the 2023 Outstanding Junior in Biochemistry and is currently nominated for the 2023 Astronaut Scholarship.

Naughton was recommended for the program by her research mentor Mark Hall, associate professor of biochemistry, and Humaira Gowher, associate professor of biochemistry, both in the College of Agriculture at Purdue.


Fazioli,-James.jpegJames (Jay) Fazioli

From Los Altos, California, Jay Fazioli has a heart for community service and a thirst for scientific research.

Fazioli is a junior in the College of Science and the John Martinson Honors College studying cell, molecular, and developmental biology. His desire for research and drive to dig deeper and learn more has grown stronger through his work in animal science with Alex Pasternak, assistant professor of reproductive biology in the College of Agriculture at Purdue. In Pasternak’s lab, Fazioli has engaged in research for drug trials on swine models, linking pig anatomies closely to humans and determining outcomes on frozen tissues. His research area concentrates on identifying additional ways to target and quantify disease, specifically in hypothyroidism.  This research gives Fazioli professional skills in project management and research techniques that will lead to an opportunity to present a manuscript of findings, which will serve as his biological thesis project as well as his scholarly project for the honors college.

“Since joining my lab, Jay has been committed to learning new techniques and pushing the bounds of his knowledge,” says Pasternak,. “The Goldwater Scholarship is a much deserved acknowledgement of his hard work and dedication over the past two years.”

In addition to his research work at Purdue, Fazioli has enjoyed an internship opportunity at the International Flavors & Fragrance Company (IFF) and is planning to intern at Eli Lilly in the summer of 2023. Through these experiences, he applies knowledge at the highest level and increases his development as a research scientist.

“While I only got a mere taste of achieving scientific discovery, the experience has solidified my desire to pursue a career as a scientist," says Fazioli. Upon the completion of my internship with IFF, I found myself wishing I could postpone my studies to continue conducting the research beyond the scope of the internship.”

Fortunately, Fazioli will have plenty of opportunity to continue research as he plans to pursue a PhD in cellular and molecular biology. His aspiration is to enter the field of industrial biological research.

“I am determined to make an impact on the world with my research,” says Fazioli.

In addition to Fazioli’s recent Goldwater Scholarship, he was also awarded the 2023 Outstanding Junior Award through the department of biology at Purdue.

Along with his love of research, Fazioli has a strong desire for community service. He currently serves as the director of community service with WorldHealth Purdue and was previously the co-director of the group’s domestic service trip. His service didn’t start there. Fazioli was awarded the 2019 Gold Presidential Service Award while still in high school followed by earning the Eagle Scout Award in 2020, which included hundreds of hours of service, community engagement, and leadership experience.

Fazioli was recommended for the program by research mentor J. Alex Pasternak, assistant professor of reproductive biology in the department of animal science, and Steven Flowers, term lecturer in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue.


Soliven,-Abi.jpegAbigail Soliven

From Melbourne, Florida, Abigail Soliven is a junior in the College of Science and the John Martinson Honors College majoring in chemistry and minoring in English.

Soliven cites her immediate feelings of camaraderie and community on campus as factors leading her to Purdue to study along with the academic opportunities provided by the university. As a daughter of a school administrator and teacher, she was well educated on the available resources for college choices.

Purdue was, decidedly, the right fit.

Claiming a fascination for chemistry that began at chemistry camp in high school, Soliven notes that her interest grew stronger after presenting at an international science fair in the tenth grade. Realizing science is where she fits best, she now spends much of her time in a research lab studying the ways that molecules fit together and shape the world. It’s that discovery that fuels her curiosity in organic chemistry.

“I'm simply really into chemistry. It fascinates me, and while lab days can get tough, I have so much fun with my work. I work to leave a legacy through discovery and to leave a lasting impact on future generations of scientists who are enamored with research, just like me," says Soliven.

Soliven has enjoyed two summer research experiences that have further shaped her delight in chemistry. Included in those experiences was a project with a chemistry group at Emory University in Georgia through the Research Experience for Undergrads program (REU). This summer she plans to stay at Purdue and continue her research with Christopher Uyeda, a Richard B. Wetherill Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science.

An avid reader, Soliven is supplementing her chemistry major with a minor in English. For her, the ability to see connections through stories mirrors the logical processes and comprehension required to visualize science.

“When we publish a paper for chemistry, we’re examining the story we want to tell and how we can utilize the chemistry we’ve developed in that story,” Soliven says.

Soliven hopes to create new stories with her studies as she pursues a PhD in chemistry. Her interest in the creation of new reactions and possibilities for molecule construction is rooted in her intrigue in the possibilities to apply those reactions to different biological systems. A story she hopes to tell in depth in the future.

In addition to being named a Goldwater Scholar, Soliven is a Beering Scholar and has been nominated for the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship, an award granted to students excelling in STEM fields at the undergraduate level.

Soliven is a member of the Mortar Board Honor Society, serves as an ambassador for the honors college, volunteers for Boiler Gold Rush, and is an executive director of engagement and programming for Purdue Student Government.

If that schedule doesn’t seem busy enough, Soliven also plans to travel to Greece this May to study before returning to Purdue in June for more chemistry research.

Soliven was recommended for the program by her research mentor Christopher Uyeda, Richard B. Wetherill Professor of Chemistry, and William Wuest, GRA distinguished investigator and professor of chemistry, both in the College of Science at Purdue.


About The National and International Scholarships Office

Naughton, Fazioli, and Soliven received consultation on their applications for the Goldwater Scholarship by the National and International Scholarship Office (NISO) at Purdue University.
The National and International Scholarships Office is a part of the John Martinson Honors College and coordinates the process of applying for scholarships and grants that require a university nomination. Purdue students applying for prestigious awards such as the Goldwater Scholarship receive support and guidance through this office.


 Writer: Leslie Valiant