MTSU rising junior Jared Frazier has lofty aspirations to one day attend MIT.
That’s the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, whose mission is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology and other areas of scholarship and home to 95 Nobel laureates, 59 National Medal of Science winners and 77 MacArthur Fellows through the years.
Frazier, 20, a double major in chemistry and computer science from Spring Hill, Tennessee, just earned the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. He is one of nearly 400 college students from nearly 1,350 U.S. applicants to capture the honor.
The scholarship is named after the late former U.S. senator from Arizona, who served in Congress for 30 years and had a strong interest in science and technology. It is among the highest awards undergraduates majoring in science can receive.
“I am profoundly affected in two ways,” Frazier said of the recognition. “I now have doors opened to me for research opportunities, internships, graduate schools and networking.”
“The financial award will help alleviate the cost of college, meaning I can focus more on my studies,” he added. “Not only is this award an incredible honor, but it is also a testament to the wonderful and high-quality faculty at MTSU.”
“Without the combination of guidance from the Department of Chemistry, opportunities provided by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, advising from the Honors College and the support of my family and friends, I never could have become a Goldwater Scholar.”
Frazier’s Goldwater Scholarship will begin in the fall. He could receive up to $7,500 per year to conduct research for two years.
“Jared is inquisitive, passionate and curious, and he truly is a scientist in the making,” said Mengliang “Mike” Zhang, an assistant professor in chemistry and a part of the forensic science program and Frazier’s mentor along with Chemistry Department Chair Greg Van Patten. “I can clearly feel his uncurbed passion and enthusiasm for research.”
Zhang praised Frazier’s past work ethic in the lab, discipline, communication, being a fast learner and reader of books in analytical, physical and inorganic chemistry to better understand the advanced concepts in the research. He said Frazier “has everything you can expect from a young researcher and will definitely be an academic rising star in chemistry.”
As an Independence High School junior, Frazier said he chose a path “gravitating away from soccer and a move toward academics.” He participated in show choir as a guitar accompanist (show tunes, jazz, contemporary and new age styles of music) and took 11 Advanced Placement classes his last two years.
Frazier entered MTSU in fall 2018 as an Honors College Buchanan Fellow, the highest academic award for a freshman. He planned to study biochemistry, but quickly discovered he preferred the challenge of chemistry and computer science.
Since coming to MTSU, Frazier has maintained a 4.0 GPA and has been awarded three Undergraduate Research Center grants. After graduating from MTSU, he plans to pursue his doctorate in the field of nanomaterials.
Frazier would like to “pursue a dream school — I want to attend MIT, but it’s very competitive,” he said.
“The sky’s the limit for our better students,” Honors College Dean John Vile said. “We’ve had students at Caltech, Vanderbilt, William & Mary and Oxford or Cambridge, so I wouldn’t discount it if he landed at a school like MIT.”
“Getting a Goldwater is like a student Nobel Prize — it’s people outside the university recognizing his academic ability,” Vile added. “We knew Jared was going to be highly competitive.”
Frazier has coauthored mass spectrometry articles in “Analytical Chemistry” and “Forensic Chemistry.” He is an Honors Council member and chemistry tutor for the Office of Student Success.
Away from studies and campus, Frazier is a U.S. Soccer Federation referee for boys under-16 and under-19 in Davidson, Williamson and Maury counties.
He is the seventh MTSU student since 2007 to receive the Goldwater award, with eight others achieving honorable mention.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)