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UC Davis junior selected for prestigious Goldwater scholarship

April 9, 2014

Man in tree

Goldwater Scholar Andrew Magee studies and participates in research on estimates of the evolutionary relationships among species. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)

A University of California, Davis, junior — whose passion is the tree of life — has won what is the nation’s premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Andrew Magee of San Jose is the 21st UC Davis student to be named a Goldwater Scholar. James Lucas of Cupertino, a third-year student transitioning from biotechnology to biochemistry, was named a Goldwater Honorable Mention.

An animal biology major, Magee studies and participates in research on statistical phylogenetics — estimates of the evolutionary relationships among species. “It’s really new, cutting-edge, cool stuff,” he said.

Initially planning on a career in veterinary medicine, Magee became interested in evolution and ecology, one of the fields in which UC Davis has received high national rankings. Since his freshman year, Magee has worked on three research projects and is now investigating the phenomenon of declining rates at which lineages diversify through time.

Speaking of his love for the subject of evolution, he describes how people model lineage diversification as a process that generates a “beautiful tree of life” and species that are “incredibly well adjusted to where they are.”

Of the Goldwater honor, Magee said, “It’s a validation that I’m doing something that‘s good for me to do.”

Magee, who holds a prestigious Regent’s Scholarship and participates in the University Honors Program, plans to pursue a doctorate in evolutionary biology and conduct research and teach at the university level.

Honoring the late U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, the federally endowed Goldwater scholarship was designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. It provides up to $7,500 for college expenses and was awarded to 283 scholars from among 1,166 applicants nationwide for the 2014-15 academic year.

The Undergraduate and Prestigious Scholarship office at UC Davis assists high-achieving students to apply for 20 of the most prestigious national and international scholarships. Students interested in the Goldwater scholarship should apply to the UC Davis office by November 2014.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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