Undergraduate research helped Sam Condon become a Goldwater Scholar

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Sam Condon didn’t wait long to start gaining valuable research experience at Iowa State University. The senior biochemistry major started working in his second semester at Iowa State. And he’s never stopped.

His time in Iowa State research labs was one of the reasons Sam was named a 2012 Goldwater Scholar. He was one of 282 United States sophomores and juniors last spring awarded the nation’s premier undergraduate scholarship award in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering.

Sam, who wants to earn a doctoral degree and conduct research as a career, is an "extremely deserving recipient of the Goldwater Award," said Marna Yandeau-Nelson, a scientist with the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology (BBMB) at Iowa State. Sam works with her and Basil Nikolau, professor of BBMB, on dissecting the pathways by which hydrocarbons are produced in maize.

Yandeau-Nelson added that Condon is a leader in the lab. "He trained and led a small team in analyzing more than 1,000 corn silk samples and has since performed much of the statistical analysis on the data set."

In summer 2011, Sam worked at a research laboratory at SUNY (State University of New York)-Albany through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program. He was surprised that a lot of students in the program were getting their first taste of genuine research.

"We take it for granted at Iowa State that you can become involved in research early on," Sam said. "That’s not the case at all universities in the U.S."

Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.