University of Scranton Goldwater Scholar is Model Scientist of the Future
The University of Scranton’s newly minted Goldwater Scholar Matthew Reynolds can easily discuss hydrophobins, cilia and microtubule doublets with the same unbridled enthusiasm that other college students may express for the first warm, sunny days of spring.
With research already published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, Reynolds became the 12th Scranton student in 15 years to earn a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate scholarship for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Reynolds, a member of Scranton’s class of 2018, is a biology and biophysics double major with minors in mathematics and computer science and a member of the University’s undergraduate Honors Program.
Reynolds, of Apalachin, New York, was among just 240 students from 157 colleges in the nation to earn a Goldwater Scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year. He is one of only six students from Jesuit universities to be awarded a Goldwater Scholarship this year. In addition to Scranton, Boston College, Georgetown, St. Joseph’s, The College of the Holy Cross and Creighton University each also had a student earn a Goldwater Scholarship.
“Matthew was selected to receive the Goldwater Scholarship from a highly-competitive field of 1,286 students nominated by campus representatives of colleges and universities from across the country,” said Mary Engel, Ph.D., director of health-professional school placement and fellowship programs at the University, who noted he was a Goldwater Scholarship finalist last year as a sophomore at Scranton.
A Science Maverick
Reynolds takes a pioneering approach to research, applying his studies across the disciplines of biology, physics, mathematics and computer science for scientific discovery.
“I want to be a good research scientist for my future career, so I need to be versatile,” said Reynolds. “One way to do this is to be able to develop my own software and to know how to work with large data sets in order to perform quantitative analysis and to understand how cells work from a physical perspective.”
Reynolds has already developed software for image processing and analysis for biological applications that are available to University students for the cellular biology lab, where he serves as an undergraduate teaching assistant. He has also written software programs for his own research.
“I wrote an image-processing package that basically used an exhaustive optimization technique to generate width profiles for cilia,” said Reynolds. “When I was learning optimization strategies in a computer science class with Dr. (Benjamin) Bishop, I found myself saying ‘Wow, this is exactly what I needed for my research.’ I immediately implemented it, and this approach worked to answer the question I was posing in my study.”
Comfortable with state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge research techniques, Reynolds has experimental experience with cryo-electron microscopy and tomography, conventional transmission electron microscopy, protein complex isolation and immunocytochemistry, to name a few.
“I like the questions posed in biology – but I also really like the methods and the way of understanding that comes from physics and math,” said Reynolds “I am most interested in research that crosses these boundaries.”
An Astute Researcher
Reynolds conducted research studies at the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health in Albany, New York, through a Research Experience for Undergraduates program and other summer and hourly internship programs. He worked with research scientist Haixin Sui, Ph.D., and was part of a team of scientists whose study, “Display of fungal hydrophobin on the Pichia pastoris cell surface and its influence on Candida antarctica lipase B,” was published in the journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.
Reynolds went on to spearhead a new project on ciliary structure as a collaboration between Dr. Sui’s lab and the lab of University of Scranton biology professor George Gomez, Ph.D., where he conducts research as part of the University’s Faculty-Student Research and Honors programs.
Reynolds has delivered oral presentations of his research at the Wadsworth Center Undergraduate Symposium in 2015 and 2016. He has presented posters on his research with Dr. Gomez at the 2015 American Society for Cell Biology Meeting in San Diego, California, for which he received a competitive travel award from the American Society for Cell Biology. He also presented his poster at Scranton’s Celebration of Student Scholars and its Medical Alumni Council Alumni Symposium in 2016.
Reynolds said his professors at Scranton have always “pushed me to do more than I thought I could. They pushed me to go outside my comfort zones academically, which has allowed me to do more.”
Reynolds has accepted a position for an internship at The Rockefeller University in New York City this summer.
A Recognized Scholar
A full-tuition Presidential Scholarship recipient at Scranton, Reynolds is a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society; Sigma Pi Sigma, national physics honor society for physics; and IEEE’s (Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers) Eta Kappa Nu honor society. He has been a teaching assistant in several courses, including leadership and civic responsibility and cell biology. He has served as a peer tutor for general chemistry and cellular biology at the University’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. A member of the biology club, chemistry club and IEEE, Reynolds is a staff writer for The Aquinas, the University’s student newspaper, and served as its science and technology editor for 2014-2015. A poem he co-wrote with Alice Chen-Liaw, of the University’s class of 2016, was also published in Esprit, the University’s literary magazine.
A graduate of Vestal High School in New York, Reynolds is a National Merit commended scholar, an AP scholar and an international baccalaureate diploma recipient. He is the son of William and Rosemary Reynolds.
The Goldwater Scholarship Program, which awarded its first scholarships in 1989, was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.