Miami University junior Ethan Klein named a Goldwater Scholar

ethan klein

Ethan Klein (submitted photo).

By Susan Meikle, university news and communications

Miami University junior Ethan Klein has been named a Goldwater Scholar for 2021-2022. He is among 410 students nationwide to receive the scholarship, the premiere undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering.

Klein, from Stevenson Ranch, California, is one of seven students from an Ohio public university to receive the award. He is a geology major with an environmental science co-major, pursuing a certificate in geographic information science.

The Goldwater Scholarship

The Goldwater Scholarship Program encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, natural science and engineering. Nationwide, faculty nominated 1,256 students — from a pool of more than 5,000 ‑for the scholarship, worth up to $7,500 per year.

This is the 10th year in a row a Miami student has been named a Goldwater Scholar, said Paul Urayama, associate professor of physics and Miami’s Goldwater representative. '

"I knew it was here where I would have the encouragement and resources to thrive"

ethan klein and claire mcleod point at computer screen

Ethan Klein and Claire McLeod in the Center for Advanced Microscopy and Imaging (CAMI).

Klein has been conducting undergraduate research since his first semester at Miami. He felt “immediately welcomed and supported” by geology faculty even before he joined Miami, he said. After learning about opportunities in advanced microscopy for undergraduates during his first visit to campus, he said “I knew it was here where I would have the encouragement and resources to thrive.”

He has worked closely with faculty mentors Claire McLeod, assistant professor of geology and environmental earth science, and Mark Krekeler, associate professor of geology and environmental earth science and also of mathematical and physical sciences at the Regionals.

“It has been wonderful to get to know and collaborate with Ethan over the past few years here at Miami,” McLeod said. He first participated in McLeod’s and Krekeler's AUGITE research program, a National Science Foundation-funded GEOPATHS program designed to support student professional development and success not only in geoscience but STEM more broadly.

His first research project, working with McLeod, involved investigating the petrogenesis of granite underlying the Round Mountain Gold Mine in Nevada, in relation to the rock that hosts the gold.

“From this program and in the years that followed, Ethan has exemplified his ability to conduct independent research, collaborate with peers and mentors, and communicate his research findings to diverse audiences,” McLeod said.

He has continued with Krekeler on a project that involves characterizing the mineralogy and geochemistry of historical talc ore samples from the Willow Creek Mine in Montana.

Klein was trained in the use of scanning electron microscopy (SEM) at Miami’s Center for Advanced Microscopy and Imaging (CAMI), an all-university research, teaching and service facility located in Upham Hall.

ethan klein and mark krekeler look at a sem image on computer monitor

Klein and Mark Krekeler work with a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

His preliminary SEM study revealed that the minor mineral assemblage of the Willow Creek Mine is more mineralogically diverse and complex than previously recognized and that these minerals contain potentially toxic elements. “Dr. Krekeler and I are continuing by looking further into the bulk geochemistry of the talc as well as pyrite mineral inclusions within the ore,” Klein said.

Krekeler said “Ethan has been one of the best performing students in our department, reaching early research success and maintaining a very high GPA.”

Undergraduate research last summer was curtailed by pandemic and the stay-at-home orders, but Klein was able to work on analysis of SEM data he had collected previous to the campus shut down. His work on the project has already contributed to a manuscript with Krekeler published last fall in Results in Geochemistry.

“I am grateful for having become published at this point in my career,” Klein said. He has presented his research in poster presentations at the annual Geological Society of America meetings in 2019 (in person) and 2020 (virtually).

“I enthusiastically congratulate him on his Goldwater Scholarship Award as it reflects his dedication to exceeding expectations in undergraduate research,” Krekeler said. 

McLeod added, “I have no doubt that Ethan will continue to excel here at Miami as an early career scientist and I very much look forward to what the future will bring.”