It was a moment during a study abroad program in Turks & Caicos that sealed Charlotte Pfamatter’s plans for the future.
“I was on a snorkeling expedition when a group of about 10 spotted eagle rays passed by,” she recalled. “I remember thinking that these are endangered, and seeing even one is a rare thing. Seeing 10 pass over my head at once made me realize their fragile existence as a species, which reinforced my desire to dedicate my career to science and research.”
My experiences at Longwood have shaped me so much, and I feel I have grown into a leader and researcher in ways I never imagined. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.Charlotte Pfamatter '21 Tweet This
That dedication led Pfamatter '21 to become Longwood University’s 2020 nominee for the Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s preeminent undergraduate award for STEM majors who plan to pursue a career in research. Only about 400 students across the nation receive the prestigious award.
The junior integrated environmental sciences major has big plans for her future that can be summed up succinctly.
“I aspire to convince the public to take action against climate change,” she wrote in her application.
That aspiration was built through a number of research experiences at Longwood, including the exclusive PRISM program, which funded a summer of intense field research with Dr. Kathy Gee, associate professor of environmental science, and another student, Curran Atkinson ’21. Their work investigated methods of controlling harmful mosquito populations in rainwater harvesting systems and led to a series of conferences where Pfamatter presented her work to professors and scientists working in the field.
Her commitment to scholarship, service and values leave no doubt in my mind that Charlotte will be one of the next generation’s research leaders in environmental science.Dr. Kathy Gee, assistant professor of biology Tweet This
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship recognizes and awards an exclusive group of students who major in STEM fields by funding graduate study. Scholarship winners have gone on to become some of the nation’s top scientists and professors.
“It’s an honor to be nominated for this scholarship from Longwood,” said Pfamatter. “I never would have thought when I arrived on campus three years ago that I would be applying for the Goldwater Scholarship. My experiences at Longwood have shaped me so much, and I feel I have grown into a leader and researcher in ways I never imagined. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Pfamatter spent last summer working at several field sites studying the effectiveness of different techniques in controlling harmful mosquito populations in rainwater harvesting systems, including home rain barrels and commercial systems. She studied 20 rainwater harvesting systems at a dozen sites across North Carolina, leading work on capturing and counting mosquito larvae from the collected rainwater.
“Charlotte often pushes others—including myself—to think outside the box and develop creative solutions to difficult problems,” said Gee in a letter supporting Pfamatter’s nomination to the Goldwater committee. “She is persistent and determined when faced with a challenge and is willing to put forth as much time and effort as possible to ensure success… . Her commitment to scholarship, service and values leave no doubt in my mind that Charlotte will be one of the next generation’s research leaders in environmental science.”
If Pfamatter’s application is successful, she would become the second Goldwater Scholar in Longwood history. Tom Pettus ’90 was awarded the scholarship in 1989 and is a chemistry professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara.
“Charlotte impressed our scholarship committee with her passion and commitment to a career not just in research, but in meaningful, transformational research,” said Dr. Wade Edwards, associate dean of the Cook-Cole College of Arts & Sciences and professor of French, who is the Goldwater Scholarship Faculty Representative. “She is sincere in her concern for climate change and is the type of student who seeks out opportunities to get involved in work that resonates with her. Her experiences at Longwood have prepared her to continue studying and leading on this issue, and I’m convinced she will go on to a life of consequence and scholarship. The entire Longwood community is proud of her as our nominee to the Goldwater committee.”