Andrew Phillips remembers the grade school field trip to the Medical College of Wisconsin that changed his career perspective.
At the time, Phillips wanted to be an archaeologist. But after seeing the institution, which conducts more than 2,000 research studies and clinical trials a year, Phillips knew exactly what he wanted to do.
"That was it," Phillips said. "It was such a great trip. That was the moment when my interest switched to medicine and medical research."
Phillips, a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater chemistry honors major, pursued his interest with enthusiasm and is now a 2014 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar.
The prestigious national scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors pursuing research-oriented careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 per year for up to two years of undergraduate study.
Phillips, who received an honorable mention for the award last year, is just the second UW-Whitewater student to receive the full honor. Marie Nider, also a chemistry honors major, was a 2012 Goldwater Scholar.
Phillips, a 2012 Whitefish Bay High School graduate, chose to attend UW-Whitewater after a welcoming campus visit. On that day, he met friendly faculty members and learned about campus opportunities. He said he could envision his education at UW-Whitewater.
"I had high expectations and my experience here has surpassed my expectations," Phillips said.
Phillips has excelled at UW-Whitewater and has embraced research opportunities on and off campus. Last summer he assisted in cancer-related research at the medical college he toured as a child. On campus, he's also worked on cancer research with his professor and adviser, Christopher Veldkamp in the Department of Chemistry.
Veldkamp said Phillips is a great student, a productive researcher and well-deserving of the Goldwater award.
"It is the most competitive scholarship at the undergraduate level in the sciences," Veldkamp said. "There are fewer than 300 awarded in the whole nation. It's a huge deal, and this will open up a lot of doors."
After graduating from UW-Whitewater, Phillips hopes to pursue medical research. He said he plans to enroll in a medical science training program and earn his M.D. and Ph.D., ideally in a program somewhere in the Midwest.
"You can really tell he is interested in using science to discover things people have never learned before," Veldkamp said.
Cancer research, Phillips has learned, holds tremendous potential. He said he will likely continue on that research path.
"Discovery is such a humbling experience," Phillips said. "The more you learn, the more you learn you know so little. But I love the potential of science."
-- Written by Ben Jones