Two EMU Honors College students among nominees for Goldwater Scholarship

Ypsilanti - Honors students Alex Chumney and Luke Mangas have been nominated for the 2022 scholarship provided by The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

The Goldwater Scholarship awards up to $7,500 per academic year to sophomore and junior students pursuing research careers in the fields of natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Students pursuing most pre-professional careers, such as pre-med, are not eligible for this scholarship unless research is a central component of their career endeavors. Applicants must also maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and must be a U.S. citizen, U.S national, or permanent resident.

Funds can cover tuition, fees, books, and living expenses.

“Since EMU is allowed only four to five applicants per year for the entire University, being selected to represent the University is a significant achievement,” said Dr. Aaron Liepman, a professor in the biology department of EMU who helps students with the Goldwater application process in his role as a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College.

The Honors College and faculty mentors assist students through every step of gathering and preparing their application materials. The application includes a research essay covering the research the student has completed and their future research plans. Materials completed for the Goldwater Scholarship can also be submitted for other scholarship opportunities and graduate applications.

The awardees will be announced on March 25 at 12 p.m. An overview of EMU’s nominees is as follows.

Alex Chumney
Alex Chumney

Alex Chumney was born in Austin, Texas, but raised in Pinckney, Mich., where she attended Pinckney Community High School. She attended Albion College and Washtenaw Community College before transferring to EMU. Chumney is a junior majoring in biology with a concentration in ecology, organismal diversity, and evolution. She was inspired to study ecology by her mother, an environmental science teacher, and the peace she found in nature. With Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Emily Grman, Chumney is investigating prairie restoration, focusing on the impact of soil community microbes, such as arbuscular microbial fungi and rhizobia, on native prairie legumes with differing life histories. They are hoping to understand why prairie restoration success is limited and why specific native species found in remnant prairies (prairies relatively untouched by the development) do not establish in restored prairies. Alex plans to obtain a Ph.D. in biology and is excited to continue gaining research experience.

“I don’t like to force myself into a box,” said Chumney. “I’ll branch out so I have more experiences… Being involved is the most exciting part. I love being in the field.”

Luke Mangas
Luke Mangas

Luke Mangas comes from Columbus, Ohio, and attended New Albany High School. Mangas is a junior pursuing a double major in chemistry and mathematics. His teachers in high school and his curiosity about how the world works led him to delve into these fields. With Professor of Chemistry Dr. Maria Milletti, Mangas is conducting computational research to model rhodium-catalyzed amidation reactions. Like Chumney, Mangas intends to earn a Ph.D. and make a difference in the lives of others.

“My ultimate goal is that I want to do something that helps people in some way. I want to do something that’s going to make their life better,” said Mangas. “For example, the research that I’m doing right now is about a reaction that has a possibility to create new drugs… doing little things like that are going to make someone's life better someday.”

Applying for the Goldwater Scholarship provides an opportunity to gain valuable experience and learn regardless of the outcome.

“Of course, you want to win. It’s a scholarship. That’s the primary reason you’re applying and the primary reason Dr. Liepman is investing so much time and helping you,” said Chumney. “But it’s not the only reason. You should take what skills you gain along the way as a bonus.”

Current freshman and sophomore students interested in graduate study that leads to a career in STEM research should contact Dr. Liepman by email at

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

March 16, 2022

Written by:
Shelby Keil

Darcy Gifford