Mercer wordmark

Mercer Student Earns Honorable Mention for Goldwater Scholarship

May 17, 2011

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or

MACON – Mercer University student Vanessa Breslin has been selected as an honorable mention for the 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most selective research scholarships for undergraduates. The Goldwater program awards scholarships annually to students who intend to pursue careers in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering. Only 300 college sophomores and juniors receive the award each year.

Breslin, a rising senior and chemistry major, has worked in the lab of Dr. Adam Kiefer, assistant professor of chemistry, since her freshman year. As part of her research, she has worked with Dr. Kiefer on two synthetic methodology projects and presented her work at the American Chemical Society National meeting in 2010, the International Mercury Expo in 2010 and the 2010 joint meeting of the 66th Southwest and 62nd Southeastern Regional Meetings of the American Chemical Society. Breslin also traveled with Mercer On Mission to Mozambique in 2010, where she collected preliminary research data on the effectiveness of retorts on decreasing mercury-related illnesses in rural mining camps and worked with artisanal gold miners to decrease mercury pollution.

Dr. Kiefer believes that Breslin’s determination, excellent grades and presentation of research at national conventions have made her an excellent candidate for a variety of prestigious graduate programs.

“Vanessa is proof positive that combining classroom education, strong service programs such as Mercer On Mission and independent research experiences carried out in faculty labs, produce students that will become leaders in their respective scientific field,” Dr. Kiefer said. 

Breslin will continue her research in a new field this summer at the University of Kansas, where she has accepted an offer to conduct research there through a highly competitive grant from the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. She will return to Mercer in the fall of 2011 to complete her undergraduate research experience. After completing her undergraduate work at Mercer, Breslin plans to earn a Ph.D in synthetic organic/organometallic chemistry.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at four regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
— 30 —