Caleigh Charlebois awarded Barry Goldwater Scholarship

University of Maine junior Caleigh Charlebois has been awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship for demonstrating exceptional promise of becoming a next-generation research leader in engineering, mathematics or natural sciences. She will receive up to $7,500 for tuition, books and room and board.

To be selected for this award, students need to demonstrate breadth and depth of research experience and skills, ability to make an impact in their research field and intention to continue their academic career with a Ph.D.

Charlebois, of South China, Maine, is a zoology major with a minor in technical writing, and is in the Honors College. This is her third semester as a teaching assistant for the Honors phage genomics course sequence

This past summer, Charlebois had an internship at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor focused on researching variation in repetitive DNA in mice. She presented the research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in November. A full story about her internship is online

This fall, she will work on her Honors thesis with Danielle Levesque, an assistant professor of mammalogy and mammalian health. The project will potentially include helping to analyze data from the 200 Mammals Project, a project that sequenced the genomes of 200 different mammal species.

“I hope to gain field experience by helping with the fieldwork other members of her lab are doing, if things go back to normal by the end of the summer or the fall,” Charlebois says.

Outside of the lab and classroom, Charlebois has a passion for music. She plays ukulele, guitar, keyboard, and folk instruments, and is a hobbyist composer and producer. She helps manage an online music project with 60 music contributors and more than 50 track art contributors from all over the world, and also records vocals and instrumentals for her own songs. 

After graduating in 2021, Charlebois plans to go to graduate school and gain field experience. Her career goals include earning a Ph.D. in zoology, and conducting research in wildlife genetics, diversity and evolution at a university or nonprofit institution.

Her faculty mentors are Sally Molloy, an assistant professor of genomics at UMaine; Beth Dumont, an assistant professor at The Jackson Laboratory; and Uma Arora, a Ph.D. student at The Jackson Laboratory.

Robert Wheeler, associate professor of microbiology, is the UMaine campus representative for the Goldwater scholarship and oversees the competitive Campus Nomination process.

Charlebois received application support from the Office of Major Scholarships in Estabrooke Hall. The office has more information about the Goldwater Scholarship and other scholarship opportunities on its website.

In 1986, Congress established the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to honor the work of Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served the country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.

Since 1989, the Goldwater Foundation has awarded scholarships totaling more than $71 million to 9,047 students. Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 93 Rhodes Scholarships, 146 Marshall Scholarships, 170 Churchill Scholarships, 109 Hertz Fellowships, and other distinguished awards, including National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

For additional information, the Goldwater Foundation release is online, as is a list of scholarship recipients from each state.

Contact: Cleo Barker,