Environmental Engineering major named prestigious 2022 Goldwater Scholar

Marie Young | 03/28/2022

Matthew Berzonsky, a junior Environmental Engineering major, at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pa., has been named a prestigious Goldwater Scholar for 2022.

Matthew Berzonsky


The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater is one of the oldest and most sought-after undergraduate scholarships in the United States centered on the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. It seeks to identify and support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming this Nation's next generation of research leaders in these fields.

Berzonsky is the son of Thomas and Karen and lives in Indiana, Pa. He was one of only 417 college students from across the United States to be awarded a Goldwater Scholarship this year. He was selected from an estimated pool of roughly 5,000 college sophomores and juniors; 1242 natural science, engineering, and mathematics students were nominated by 433 academic institutions to compete for the 2022 Goldwater scholarships.

Berzonsky discovered that he was chosen as a Goldwater Scholar during an engineering class on Friday, March 25. Shortly after class, he celebrated the honor with his classmates, faculty, and university administration. To his surprise, Matt's parents and Dr. Paul Johns, a 2007 alumnus who served on the scholarship review team, were able to join the celebration virtually.

Dr. Johns, an alumnus in Chemistry, was also a Saint Francis University Goldwater Scholar who received the award in 2006. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of Notre Dame, and now is a Research Chemist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

Berzonsky included five research projects within his application. He began one during his first year "Utilization of Mine Drainage Residuals as a Nutrient Pollution Control Strategy" and completed it at home during the summer 2020 pandemic. Another project "Modeling Agricultural CO2 Gradients to Improve Urban Emission Measurements" was completed at the Pennsylvania State University during an NSF-REU. The other three are all continuing including "Modeling Natural Attenuation of Nutrients by Acid Mine Drainage," "Co-treatment of Acid Mine Drainage and Wastewater." and "Predicting the Impact of Climate Change on High Altitude Watersheds." These projects have led to four presentations so far, including one at the national level.

"Matthew Berzonsky's selection as a Goldwater Scholar affirms his outstanding academic achievement and research progress as an undergraduate student, and provides financial support and encouragement to continue along his path toward a Ph.D. degree and career as a researcher or professor," shared Dr. Pete Skoner Dean of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics (STEAM). "His selection also affirms the exceptional quality of the educational and research experiences at Saint Francis University, within the School of STEAM, and specifically in the environmental engineering program. Congratulations to Matt, his research mentor Dr. Travis Tasker, and his other faculty mentors Dr. Joel Bandstra and Dr. Rachel Wagner."

Berzonsky shared that his primary career goal is to "improve the health of ecosystems by discovering new technologies for environmental remediation and attempting to understand the complex biochemical and ecological interactions that are essential for all life on Earth" To achieve this lofty goal, he intends to pursue his Ph.D. in a field related to environmental engineering. "Studying environmental engineering at Saint Francis University has provided me with an outstanding foundation to pursue my research goals," he said.

About The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation


The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.