2 Earlham College juniors earn prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Two Earlham College juniors have been selected for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation’s top undergraduate awards given in the natural sciences, engineering or mathematics.

Miette Hennessy, a biochemistry major from Chicago, and Cade Orchard, a biology and geology double-major from Muncie, Indiana, will receive up to $7,500 in tuition support during their senior year. More than 1,200 students from hundreds of colleges and universities across the country were nominated for the award, with fewer than one-third receiving the scholarship.

“We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such outstanding students,” said Meg Streepey-Smith, professor of geology and the College’s Goldwater Scholarship representative. “Miette combines a background of academic excellence in the classroom with over six years of research experience in labs at prestigious universities, an extraordinary accomplishment for an undergraduate student. Cade has an exceptionally strong record of field, laboratory and classroom achievements as he continues to pursue his passion for vertebrate paleontology. 

“Both Cade and Miette are poised to transform their fields of study with their talent and commitment,” she said.

Cade Orchard, left, and Miette Hennessy.

Hennessy is an aspiring microbiologist. Her path began in high school when she became an assistant at a University of Chicago lab led by Earlham College graduates Sean Crosson and Aretha Fiebig who encouraged her to study at their alma mater. During Hennessy’s time in the Crosson lab, she investigated regulatory mechanisms of bacteria as part of the lab’s mission to understand how bacteria adapt their physiology to survive changing environments.

Hennessy’s career aspirations accelerated at Earlham, where she affirmed her intent to pursue graduate school and scientific research in environmental microbiology and mycology. She is currently studying phage and antibiotic resistance and is collaborating with Earlham Assistant Professor of Biology Lindsey McGee on related research.

“There has been so much encouragement and guidance from the Earlham community throughout the process of applying for this scholarship,” Hennessy said. “Everyone here genuinely wants to get to know you, and I think that making those personal connections has been such an important part of my time at Earlham.”

Orchard also has graduate school plans. He intends to study paleontology while pursuing a career in research and science education.

“I’ve been interested in paleontology for as long as I can remember, but it was also because of all of the fossils we have near campus,” Orchard said, noting Richmond’s distinctive geological history. “Once I came to Richmond I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

On campus, Orchard has worked at the Joseph Moore Museum of Natural History where he works in collections and science outreach. He has twice served as a teaching assistant for earth history and biodiversity classes. 

Orchard has also established relationships with the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and the Mammoth Site and Museum, where he has conducted field research during the last two summers. He is currently using paleontological techniques to remove rock from fossils on loan from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. 

“The geology faculty and other students from the department have been amazing,” he said. “They’ve become like family on campus and have supported me every step of the way.”

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