Villanova University Juniors Named 2024 Goldwater Scholars

VILLANOVA, Pa. (April 17, 2024)—Villanova University students Lauren Arnold and Hailey Bierling, juniors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, have been named 2024 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Arnold and Bierling were selected from more than 1,300 institution-nominated students nationwide and will receive scholarships to further their research in STEM fields.

"The continued recognition of Villanovans as Goldwater Scholars highlights our students’ academic achievements and dedication to advancing research that betters our world,” said University Provost Patrick G. Maggitti, PhD. “This program has proven to be a remarkable springboard for success, with many past recipients going on to excel as researchers in other prestigious, national programs. I congratulate Lauren and Hailey on this impressive honor and look forward to seeing all that they achieve.”

The Goldwater Foundation awards $7,500 scholarships to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics or engineering. It is widely considered the preeminent award for undergraduates preparing for research careers in STEM.

Lauren Arnold '25 CLAS

Lauren Arnold ‘25 CLAS

Lauren Arnold is an Environmental Science major with minors in Spanish and Global Health. She is committed to pursuing a research career focused on the intersection of human health and the environment, particularly in disadvantaged populations.

As a first-year student, Arnold was chosen to work with Steven Goldsmith, PhD, an associate professor in Geography and the Environment, as part of Villanova's Center for Research and Fellowships (CRF) Match Research Program. Arnold's research at the Goldsmith lab focused on studying flood sediment deposits in Philadelphia neighborhoods after Tropical Storm Ida. In 2022, she was awarded a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowship to research point-of-use water filters that could aid in the removal of sodium from tap water. Arnold also completed research with Jennifer Santoro and Michele Gandy in the Department of Geography and the Environment to collect high-resolution drone imagery and process geographic information system (GIS) visualizations for the Riverbend Education Center in Gladwyne, Pa. Cognizant of the importance of global partnerships in environmental health, Arnold studied abroad in Copenhagen in 2023, where she did a comparative analysis of healthcare systems in Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and Germany.

Outside of her research endeavors, Arnold is part of the editorial board for Veritas: Villanova Research Journal, serves as the president of Villanova Hillel, and is a student assistant for the Villanova women's soccer team. She also actively participates as a campus captain for The Hidden Opponent, which facilitates discussions among student-athletes about mental health.

Hailey Bierling ‘25 CLAS

Hailey Bierling ‘25 CLAS

Hailey Bierling is a Chemistry major determined to confront environmental challenges through research. Her primary focus is on finding clean alternatives to fossil fuels by studying proton-coupled electron transfer reactions and the preparation of complexes that can act as catalysts for these reactions. Her work has the potential to pave the way for clean energy sources.

Bierling began collaborating with professors of Chemistry, Scott Kassel, PhD, and Jared Paul, PhD, as a first-year student.

After a year of research on ruthenium complexes that form the basis of water oxidation catalysts, she received the Jean Dreyfus Award for Undergraduate Research and continued developing new compounds to be used as ligands and catalysts in water oxidation. This summer, Bierling will conduct research on experimental and computational spectroscopy as an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) grantee at The Ohio State University. She has presented her work at several conferences and was recognized with the American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry Undergraduate Award and was awarded a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2023.

Outside of the lab, Bierling is a resident assistant and serves as the president of the Residence Hall Association. She is also an active member of the Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women's Leadership as a Lorenzini Leadership Ambassador. Additionally, Bierling is a teaching assistant in the Chemistry department, is the vice president of the Villanova Chemistry Society and is the student chairperson of the department of Chemistry’s peer mentorship program. She also serves on the editorial board of Veritas: Villanova Research Journal.

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit