MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Yaseen Ginnab entered Middle Tennessee State University two years ago, planning to study biology and psychology. He never even considered research.
Two years later, thanks to a freshman-year nudge by biology professor Frank Bailey, the now-rising senior is totally into research — a true match for MTSU’s elevated status as a Carnegie R2 (high research activity) university earlier this year.
This year, Ginnab, 20, who is from Nashville, Tennessee, received a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship to pursue research and this summer he is spending three months in Nova Scotia, assisting with a Fulbright Canada project.
This follows a National Science Foundation REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at Central Michigan University last summer and working in the joint lab of Bailey and biology professor Ryan Otter last fall, assisting MTSU graduate students in two labs.
The Goldwater scholarship is named after the late former U.S. senator from Arizona, who served in Congress for 30 years and had a strong interest in science and technology. It is among the highest awards undergraduates majoring in science can receive.
The Fulbright-MITACS Globalink is intended for U.S. students interested in going to Canada to undertake advanced research projects in their area of interest. Ginnab applied and interviewed for seven internships. He was matched with is professor and biologist Gavin Kernaghan of Mount Saint Vincent University, documenting a fungus in the forest — plus a lab component, Ginnab said.
The Goldwater Scholarship
The Goldwater award provides funding for up to $7,500 per year to cover the cost of tuition after other scholarships.
Ginnab said of the award “signifies the start for my graduate school career, even though the scholarship is for my final year in undergraduate. It tells me that once I start graduate school, I’m a lot more confident in myself. I think I’ll be more successful than I was thinking beforehand.
“Being labeled as a ‘Goldwater scholar’ is so extremely important … It’s a recognition that we have a high potential to contribute a lot to the field of research.”
Ginnab praises Laura Clippard, who coordinates the Undergraduate Fellowship Office for the Honors College, for assisting with his Goldwater application.
A growing group of mentors
Crediting faculty and advisors, Ginnab said “MTSU has been responsible for my career path in research. Anyone who I’ve met has been — if I engage a conversation with them, they are incredibly engaging. … (Dr. Bailey) noticed that I had, I guess, the mindset of a researcher.”
Ginnab counts Bailey, biology professor Jeffrey Walck and associate professor Chris Herlihy and Central Michigan associate professor Gregory Colores as mentors along his research route.
“Yaseen has been involved in field research with my lab over the past two years,” Herlihy said. “He has been an important part of the research team, and has contributed greatly to our endangered species research. … He has tremendous potential as a researcher going forward in his career.”
Graduate school plans
After eventually graduating from MTSU, Ginnab wants to pursue a master’s degree and doctorate, with McGill University in Montreal, Canada, his first choice.
Should McGill not work out, other options include applying to the University of Oregon in Eugene, the University of Colorado in Boulder and a Denver university.