UMass Boston

UMass Boston Student Earns Goldwater Scholarship

03/31/2020| Elis Mullins

Cynthia Schofield has recently become the third UMass Boston student to receive the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. This is the second year in a row that UMass Boston students have become Goldwater Scholars.

Cynthia Schofield
Cynthia Schofield is UMass Boston's third Goldwater Scholar in two years.

“ UMass Boston is so proud of Cynthia Schofield. She epitomizes everything we stand for in research excellence. ”

The scholarship is given annually to college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate excellence in natural science, engineering, and mathematics. From an estimated pool of over 5,000 applicants, 396 received a scholarship this year.

“It is truly humbling and such an incredible honor to be recognized in this way,” noted Schofield. “A significant amount of the credit goes to the opportunities I have had access to at UMass Boston.”

A junior biochemistry major with a minor in psychology, Schofield is awaiting approval for an individualized second major in cellular and molecular neuroscience. An Honors College student, she is an Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Scholar, and works in the neurobiology lab at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research with Ann Graybiel. There, Schofield studies the molecular mechanisms that control how we make decisions and form habits, especially regarding how flawed neural signaling can contribute to conditions like drug addiction. 

“UMass Boston is so proud of Cynthia Schofield,” said Interim Chancellor Katherine Newman. “She epitomizes everything we stand for in research excellence, the impact of extraordinary mentoring, and the innovative brilliance of our students. I cannot wait to visit the lab she will found after she completes her PhD!”  

Before she came to UMass Boston, Schofield worked as a mental health counselor in a facility for addiction and mental illness and became aware that treatment plans addressed symptoms rather than the roots of an illness, something she wants to change in her research. 

“It was that frustration and desire to better understand the neurobiology behind the disease that drove me to return to school to pursue research in this field,” Schofield said.

Her plans for the future include a PhD in molecular neuroscience and a neurobiology lab of her own, where she can research the molecular underpinnings of motivation and reward processing as they relate to neurodevelopmental and addiction disorders.

The 2020-21 Goldwater Scholars include 50 mathematics and computer science majors, 287 natural sciences majors, and 59 engineering majors.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Including the 2020 awards, $71M has been awarded to over 9,047 students.

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 10 colleges and graduate schools serve 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit