UNI junior wins prestigious national scholarship

A University of Northern Iowa junior received the Goldwater Scholarship in Science and Mathematics this week, a nationally competitive award that was granted to less than 500 students across the country.

Joseph Tibbs is a double major in physics and biochemistry whose research at UNI tracks and displays complex data of molecule-to-molecule interactions that is helping to better understand the underlying mechanism of DNA repair.

“Joseph is an exceptionally gifted student,” said Professor Paul Shand, physics department head. “He is one of the best physics majors I have had the pleasure of teaching in my 26 years at UNI.”

Tibbs is co-author on one paper from this work and a second publication is also in preparation.  This past summer, Tibbs worked in Michael Murrell’s lab at the Laboratory of Living Materials at Yale University within the department of biomedical engineering. This summer, he will be working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

"Undergraduates like me know that the earlier they can be exposed to research, the more prepared they will be to succeed in projects of their own,” Tibbs said. “Being involved in a wide variety of research allows students and professors alike to gain experience in more techniques, and to apply those techniques in new and creative ways. This will benefit the universities and researchers involved, as well as the general public who benefits from this research, for years to come.”

The Goldwater Scholarship Program, honoring Sen. Barry Goldwater, fosters and encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award in these fields.

In the past 12 years, UNI students have received two Goldwater Scholarships and four honorable mentions. Some of these students have gone on to win additional nationally competitive awards and are research active in their current positions.