UNLV Honors College student and microbiology major Devon Payne was recently selected as a 2017 Goldwater Scholar.
The competitive national scholarship program is considered one of the premier awards for undergraduate STEM majors. Payne was one of just 240 students nationwide to win the scholarship, which offers up to $7,500 per recipient based on need.
Payne, currently a junior with a 3.93 GPA, said he’d first learned of the award after joining the university’s Honors College. “I knew I was interested in research and a career in science and I viewed the Goldwater Scholarship as an opportunity to make a name for myself. It was a goal to work toward.”
But winning didn’t happen overnight. Payne explained he first applied as a sophomore, but was turned down. “The application process was a lot of work. I went through 15 revisions of my research essay,” he said.
Payne turned the rejection into motivation and perseverance. “I’ve always worked hard to be high achieving,” said the Green Valley High School graduate. “So I decided to do it again and earn the scholarship.”
Payne’s application included a personal statement, letters of recommendations, and the research project he is a part of - evaluating a state of the art analytical tool that investigates microbial metabolism - under the tutelage of his mentor and UNLV microbiology professor Brian Hedlund.
And when he turned in his second application, something just “felt really good,” Payne said.
So what did it feel like his perseverance paid off? In a word, Payne said, “awesome.”
For his part, Hedlund suggested Payne deserves all the credit. “Devon is brilliant and hard-working. In my lab, he is engaged in research examining the bioenergetic basis of life near its high-temperature limit.”
Payne is the first UNLV student to be named a Goldwater Scholar since 2010.