Juniors Rosie Ries (left) and Caleb Kozuszek are 2019-2020 Goldwater Scholars (all photos by Scott Kissell).
Juniors Rosie Ries (left) and Caleb Kozuszek are 2019-2020 Goldwater Scholars (all photos by Scott Kissell).

Two Miami students named Goldwater Scholars

By Susan Meikle, university news and communications

Miami University juniors Caleb Kozuszek and Rosamiel "Rosie" Ries have each received a Goldwater Scholarship for 2019-2020.  They are among 496 students nationwide to receive the scholarship, the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, natural science and engineering.

Kozuszek, a biochemistry major from Hillsboro, and Ries, a geology and physics double major from Centerville, are two of 13 students at an Ohio public university to receive a Goldwater Scholarship.

The Goldwater Scholarship

The Goldwater Foundation Scholarship Program encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Nationwide, faculty nominated 1,223 students — from a pool of about 5,000 — for the scholarships, worth up to $7,500 per year. 


Caleb Kozuszek conducts research in protein-polymer hybrids with Dominik Konkolewicz, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Caleb Kozuszek: Discovering his inner scientist

When Kozuszek graduated from high school, not only had he never met a scientist, he did not know that people could make a career as a scientist. The main career route he knew of that pertained to his interest in science was to become a physician. So, when he started at Miami, he chose the premedical studies co-major with a biochemistry major.

His plans have changed since then.

The department of chemistry and biochemistry “really promotes undergraduate research,” Kozuszek said. By the last week of classes at the end of his first year, he decided to give research a try. He connected with faculty mentor Dominik Konkolewicz, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry and 2018 Junior Faculty Scholar, who accepted Kozuszek into his lab group a few weeks later.

After that summer of research, Kozuszek decided on a new career path: scientist.

He has been working ever since in Konkolewicz’s lab on research involving the synthesis of protein-polymer hybrids.

Simply put, Kozuszek said, the research involves combining biological materials (proteins) with materials made in the laboratory (polymers) to make something with unique properties. These properties may allow the proteins to survive a wide range of conditions which could be useful in industry or medicine.

"Caleb is a truly gifted junior scientist. He has focused on discovering the fundamentals of how synthetic polymers and biological proteins interact with each other and their surprising synergies,” Konkolewicz said. “I am excited to see the impact he will have on chemical and biological sciences in the future."

Kozuszek received a Miami Hughes internship for research last summer. His work has resulted in a co-authorship on a journal publication.  This past April he presented his research at the American Chemical Society (ACS) national meeting.

Presenting there “was an amazing experience,” he said. When he was a first-year student and a new member of the Miami Chemical Society, he heard about students presenting at the ACS meetings, but did not think it was something he could ever do.

Coming full circle, he plans to present his research again at the 2020 ACS meetings.

Helping others learn to be scientists

He is active in the Miami Chemical Society and will be its vice president next fall. This past year he was demonstrations chair for the club, arranging fun chemistry demos for children at schools and libraries mainly in the west side of Cincinnati.

Next fall, the group plans to expand its chemistry mentors program to help build community for first- and second-year chemistry majors.

Kozuszek plans to pursue a doctorate in polymer chemistry after he graduates from Miami in 2020.


Rosie Ries conducts research in seismology with Mike Brudzinski, professor of geology and environmental earth science.

Rosie Ries: Mentee and mentor 

Ries began undergraduate research her first year at Miami with mentor Mike Brudzinski, professor of geology and environmental earth science, after meeting him at a physics seminar.

She has been part of his team researching earthquakes induced by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Oklahoma, an area of interest to both scientists and the public.

“Rosie is likely the most talented undergraduate I have worked with in my 25 years as a seismologist,” Brudzinski said. “She exemplifies a couple of the hardest things to teach students to be great scientists: determination and thoroughness.”

“These skills are critical for completing a rigorous scientific study that is worthy of publication, so it's no surprise that she is already a very successful scientist with a bright future,” he said. 

Ries is a co-author on a paper published in a well-respected peer-reviewed journal. This past fall she was selected to give oral presentations on her research at the national conferences of the Geology Society of America and of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). The AGU rarely has undergraduates presenting, according to Brudzinski.

She is working on another project evaluating the different factors and operational parameters that lead to the increased likelihood of hydraulic fracturing causing felt earthquakes in Oklahoma. She is on track to be the first-author on a manuscript for this study, which will be important for industry operators and state regulators to use when deciding on best practices, Brudzinski said.

Ries was selected as a Miami Undergraduate Summer Scholar last summer. This summer she is one of about 10 students nationwide selected for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Undergraduate Summer Research Program in Seismology, at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

She plans to pursue a doctorate in geophysics after graduating from Miami in 2020.

Her interest in geology was sparked in middle school as a member of her Science Olympiad team. A family road trip out West reinforced that interest. She now volunteers as a coach for the Science Olympiad team at her former middle school (Tower Heights).

She is a member of Miami’s Geology Club and Academic Team and is a leader of two groups on campus: president-elect of the Students with Disabilities Advisory Council and of the Society of Physics Students.

Ries is also a mentor for the physics mentors program. “Science is based on mentor-mentee relationships,” she said. “I have had great mentors (at Miami). Now I am doing my part to continue that cycle.”