LAWRENCE — Audrey Rips-Goodwin, an Overland Park junior in chemistry and mathematics who is minoring in psychology, is the University of Kansas’ most recent recipient of an Astronaut Scholarship — an award of up to $15,000.
“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be an Astronaut Scholar,” Rips-Goodwin said. “This scholarship will support me and allow me to focus on research in my fourth and fifth years. Becoming an Astronaut Scholar will allow me to grow professionally and learn from those at the top of their fields.”
The Astronaut Scholarship was founded in 1984 by the six surviving members among the seven astronauts who were part of the Mercury program as a means to encourage students to pursue scientific endeavors. Astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs have also joined the foundation.
This year, the foundation awarded 68 scholarships to students from 46 universities across the nation. Students interested in applying for the awards in future years should contact the Office of Fellowships.
Rips-Goodwin is the daughter of Cheryl Rips and Stanley Goodwin and is a graduate of Blue Valley Southwest High School. She plans to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience and conduct research in neuroscience/neuroeconomics of addictions, eating disorders and obesity.
In 2021, under Michy Kelly at the University of South Carolina, Rips-Goodwin contributed to a large series of studies examining how age-related increases in phosphodiesterase 11A4 contribute to age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. She is a co-author of a paper, currently in review, based on this research.
After transferring to KU in 2022, she joined Tera Fazzino’s lab and determined the accuracy of reported energy content of hyper-palatable foods, combining her research interests in both chemistry and psychology and leading to two presentations. In 2022, she was named a Kansas Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence program scholar to conduct independent research.
This summer, Rips-Goodwin is participating in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates in the Department of Mathematics at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where she will work on sensitivity analysis of agent-based models, or ABMs.
“ABMs allow us to model the interactions of different variables,” Rips-Goodwin said. “This is something I hope to apply to addiction and obesity someday to better understand how environmental, biological and behavioral facets lead to and reinforce disease states.”
At KU, Rips-Goodwin is a student ambassador for the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, a Bricker ChemScholar and a recipient of the Frances H. Gayetta Lensor Scholarship, awarded to an exceptional female student majoring in chemistry. Outside of research and academics, Rips-Goodwin serves as a weekend volunteer at Children’s Mercy Hospital.