SM East grad Eleanor Stewart-Jones named Goldwater scholar for academic excellence and ambition in chemistry

Scholarship nominee portraits, 2019.

Eleanor Stewart-Jones, a junior from Mission majoring in chemistry, was named one of this year’s Barry M. Goldwater scholars at the University of Kansas.

Stewart-Jones, who is a graduate of Shawnee Mission East, received a nomination for the scholarship earlier this year. She and a fellow chemistry major, Tyler Nguyen, were named Goldwater scholars earlier this month.

The scholarships provide up to $7,500 annually for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Only sophomores and juniors with outstanding academic records, significant research experience and high potential for careers in STEM-related fields were eligible for nomination.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation awarded scholarships this year to 496 students across the country from a pool of more than 5,000 applicants.

Stewart-Jones said she appreciated the opportunities that the scholarship would provide for her career path. She hopes to become a research scientist in chemistry.

“This really sort of solidifies my plans,” she said. “It would be amazing to be a professor, which would offer the kind of freedom that I like in research while giving me the opportunity to teach.”

Stewart-Jones said she was drawn to chemistry after learning how the inner logic of the periodic table connects to properties exhibited by the elements in high school. She also studied in the lab of her uncle, who has a doctorate in the field.

“I realized that chemistry was a tool to understand the natural world around me,” she said. “And once I saw the possibilities opened up through research, where problems are systematically tackled using science, I knew that was the career path for me. I have always been passionate about the environment and want to use my work to help mitigate the effects of climate change.”

Misha Barybin, a chemistry professor and chair of the Goldwater Scholarship Campus Nomination Committee, cited the academic prowess and scientific curiosity of both Stewart-Jones and Nguyen as factors for awarding them the scholarship.

“Eleanor and Tyler are not only strong and ambitious students from an academic standpoint, but they are also remarkably insightful and productive undergraduate researchers with genuine scientific curiosity,” Barybin said. “I am delighted that they have been chosen to receive this award, and they certainly deserve this recognition.”

In total, KU students have won 67 Goldwater Scholarships since they were first awarded in 1989.

The daughter of Brian Jones and stepdaughter of Loes Niedekker, and daughter of Teresa Stewart and stepdaughter of Scott Leigh, Stewart-Jones also has a minor in French and is planning a career in research mimicking the chemistry done in the active sites of proteins that use metals. She works in the lab of her research mentor, Professor Tim Jackson in the KU Department of Chemistry, researching the reactivity of manganese model systems.

Stewart-Jones is also a research ambassador for the Center for Undergraduate Research and recently presented her research at the Max Planck Matter to Life Conference in Tegernsee, Germany.