Biology student Robin Marquez was selected from 1,353 nominees nationally for the highly competitive Goldwater Scholarship. This year, only 438 total scholars were selected.

The U.S. Congress established the Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in 1986 to honor the lifetime work of Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served as a soldier for almost six decades. The scholarship aims to promote the nation鈥檚 natural sciences, mathematics and engineering fields by supporting college sophomores and juniors pursuing research careers in these areas.

Each Goldwater Scholar is awarded an amount covering the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, books, and room and board with a cap of $7,500 annually. Sophomore recipients can receive this support for up to two years, while junior recipients are eligible for one year of support.

鈥淏roadly, my research has involved wildlife ecology in human-modified environments,鈥 Marquez says. I have studied urban plant-pollinator ecology, bacteria in urban streams, bacteria in the gut microbiomes of waterfowl, and the effects of agrochemicals on plants and insects. I remain most interested in insect research and will be studying wasp biodiversity in leaf litter ecosystems in Central and South America as a student in the Natural History Research Experiences REU at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.鈥

Marquez achieved his associate degree from Valencia College in Fall 2023 and is pursuing his bachelor鈥檚 at UCF. He is a Ronald E. McNair scholar, serves on the UCF Student Undergraduate Research Council, and is a member of the UCF Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science.

At UCF, Marquez has been mentored by Professor Patrick Bohlen and conservation biology doctoral student Alessandra Pandolfi of the Urban Ecology Lab, as well as Professor Ken Fedorka, and UCF Collection of Arthropods manager Shawn Kelly. Marquez has also worked as a research volunteer at Yale University under Andrea Ayala.

Ultimately, Marquez hopes to pursue a career in entomology or insect ecology research in a museum, federal or academic position.

鈥淢y best advice would be to give yourself permission to dream big and believe in your potential to succeed,鈥 he says. 鈥淵ou do not have to be the most intelligent or knowledgeable person to engage in academic development opportunities, be it research or otherwise. What is most important is your level of effort and dedication to learn and grow.鈥

If you are a student interested in applying for a Goldwater Scholarship or one of the many other STEM-related scholarships available, contact the Office of Prestigious Awards (OPA) at