Junior wins Goldwater Scholarship for science

Reid Pryzant ’16 won a Goldwater Scholarship for science.--Photo courtesy of Roger Pryzant
Reid Pryzant ’16 won a Goldwater Scholarship for science.–Photo Courtesy of Roger Pryzant

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation named Reid Pryzant ’16 a 2015 Goldwater Scholar.

The scholarship is awarded annually to 260 college sophomores and juniors who excel in science, engineering or mathematics and provides up to $7,500 for tuition, fees, books or room and board.

“It’s an honor to win the Goldwater. When my name was announced, it didn’t really register at first. I kind of went ‘oh’ and continued along my day. Only later did it really hit me,” Pryzant said.

Pryzant is a double major in biology and computer science from Falmouth, Maine. Next year, he would like to write a thesis in computer science. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science, specifically in machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence. Ultimately, he plans to someday teach in higher education.

Since the fall of 2012, Pryzant has worked as a research assistant in the lab of Claire Ting, associate professor of biology. The Ting lab has collected samples of microorganisms from the Sargasso Sea in the North Atlantic, and has sequenced the DNA and RNA from these samples as part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation. Pryzant runs computations that analyze the DNA and RNA from these samples.

“The field of biology involves massive amounts of data, and the only way to chew through it all is with computation,” Pryzant said.

“By using an interdisciplinary approach and a range of computational methods to study our genomic databases, [Pryzant’s] research has provided insights on how key microorganisms shape the composition and functional landscape of the Sargasso Sea,” Ting said.

Pryzant is a member of the men’s track and field team and holds the College record in the indoor heptathlon. He founded the College’s bee-keeping club after developing an interest in bees as a high school student, and hopes to continue bee-keeping after graduating.

The College has produced 43 Goldwater Scholars since 1989, including Ben Augenbraun ’15, Jesse Freeman ’15 and Samantha Petti ’15.

The Goldwater Foundation was founded in 1986 in honor of Senator Barry M. Goldwater.