A UC Davis junior whose passion is the tree of life has won the nation’s premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.
Andrew Magee of San Jose is the 21st UCD student to be named a Goldwater Scholar. James Lucas of Cupertino, a third-year student transitioning from biotechnology to biochemistry, received an honorable mention.
An animal biology major, Magee studies and participates in research on statistical phylogenetics: estimates of the evolutionary relationships among species.
“It’s really new, cutting-edge, cool stuff,” he said.
Initially planning on a career in veterinary medicine, Magee became interested in evolution and ecology. Since his freshman year, he has worked on three research projects and is now investigating the phenomenon of declining rates at which lineages diversify through time.
Speaking of his love for the subject of evolution, he describes how people model lineage diversification as a process that generates a “beautiful tree of life” and species that are “incredibly well adjusted to where they are.”
Of the Goldwater honor, Magee said, “It’s a validation that I’m doing something that‘s good for me to do.”
Magee, who holds a prestigious Regents Scholarship and participates in the University Honors Program, plans to pursue a doctorate in evolutionary biology and conduct research and teach at the university level.
Honoring the late U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, the federally endowed Goldwater scholarship was designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. It provides up to $7,500 for college expenses and was awarded to 283 scholars from among 1,166 applicants nationwide for the 2014-15 academic year.
— UC Davis News