Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

May 31, 2018

UW McNair Scholars Receive Prestigious National Honors

Three current and two recently graduated students in OMA&D’s Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program were awarded 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, while McNair Scholar Tyler Valentine also received the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

The NSF fellowship is awarded to 2,000 graduating seniors and first or second-year graduate students. Recipients receive a three-year, $34,000 stipend to attend graduate school. Awardees were selected from more than 12,000 applicants and come from all 50 U.S. States, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

UW graduating seniors Ana Gomez, Solomon Muche and Michelle Lee received the fellowship, along with 2016 graduates Jesus Martinez-Gomez and Ibette Valle.

Goldwater Scholarships are awarded to students who have “outstanding potential” and plan to pursue research careers in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering. The award covers tuition, room and board, fees and books up to $7,500 annually for one or two years.

Valentine is one of four UW students to receive the Goldwater Scholarship. This year’s scholars were chosen from among 1,280 students nominated by faculty members at colleges and universities across the country.

Learn more about these outstanding students:



ANA ESMERALDA GOMEZ Ana will graduate in June with a B.S. in bioengineering. Next fall, she will begin pursuing a joint Ph.D. program in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco. Ana received the GEM Consortium Fellowship and a sponsorship from Draper Laboratories. She was also awarded UC Berkeley’s Chancellor’s Fellowship. Her long-term goal is to be a researcher in the field of bioengineering, focusing on microfluidics and biomarkers. She is interested in developing clinical and point-of-care diagnostics. Point-of-care diagnostics are of great interest to her because they can be used to quickly diagnose without the need of a laboratory or highly trained staff. Researching diagnostic platforms, developing point-of-care diagnostics for diseases, and improving sensitivity and selectivity of current tests will benefit lower-resource areas. This will require moving bioengineering knowledge forward, and Ana is eager to contribute to this field.


MICHELLE LEE  Michelle will graduate in June with a B.S. in oceanography, and a minor in marine biology. Starting Fall 2018, she will attend the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University to pursue a Ph.D. in earth and environmental sciences. The focus of her Ph.D. will be in marine geology and geophysics. She plans to study the geophysics and seismology of subduction plate boundaries and hydrothermal communities of the seafloor.


SOLOMON MUCHE Solomon, a 2018 Husky 100 honoree, will graduate in June with a B.S. in bioengineering. In Fall 2018, he will start a master’s program at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS) with a specialization in biomedical engineering. At Yale, biomedical engineers are developing biomaterials for use in detecting inflammatory signals which have potential applications in an array of diseases such as diabetes and arthritis. Solomon hopes to contribute his strong undergraduate education and research experience in tissue engineering to collaborative, interdisciplinary teams at Yale. By undertaking additional tissue engineering training in the graduate program, he is well prepared to enter this emerging field with a nuanced understanding of cellular biology, physical engineering and global health.


IBETTE VALLE, ’16 Ibette Valle is a second-year doctoral student in social psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She studies how social, cultural and familial factors affect the college transition of first-generation college students from low-income, Latinx and migrant farm-working backgrounds. In her current line of work, she utilizes online surveys with Latinx first-generation alumni from a Bay Area charter high school to examine the link between familial commitments, guilt and retention of Latinx first-generation students and how this is moderated by a cultural mismatch – the contrasting cultural values between students and institutions. Through various methodologies, Ibette plans to contribute to theory and institutional practice on improving the college transition for underserved students.


JESUS MARTINEZ-GOMEZ Jesus graduated from the UW with a B.S. in biology in 2016. He started his Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley, however will be transferring to Cornell to finish it. Jesus studies the three-dimensional architecture of plants. He is specifically interested in understanding the molecular mechanism responsible for organizing architecture, as well as using model-based approaches to make inference of how plant architecture has evolved through time. His study group is the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), a charismatic group of bulbed plants that also contains members of the onion genus including garlics and shallots. This work contributes to a basic understanding of how organisms produce their diverse forms and how these forms have changed throughout time.



TYLER VALENTINE  Tyler Valentine is a fourth-year senior in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences with a minor in philosophy. His research has touched on a variety of topics within space science and technology from mission design for CubeSatellites to the geotechnical properties of near-Earth asteroids. Currently, he is working with researchers in the Applied Physics Laboratory to investigate techniques for extraterrestrial water extraction. Tyler currently plans to graduate in June of 2019, and will then pursue a Ph.D. in space technology with a focus on technologies related to utilizing the resources available on planetary bodies.