Williams Junior Jonathan X. Meng Named 2017 Goldwater Scholar

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 25, 2017—The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has named Williams College junior Jonathan X. Meng a 2017 Goldwater Scholar. Meng is among 240 recipients of the scholarship and was chosen from 1,286 nominees. It is awarded to college sophomores and juniors nationwide who excel in mathematics, science, or engineering. Scholars receive awards of up to $7,500 to cover tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

Two Williams students also received honorable mentions—Anya Michaelsen ’19 of Burke, Va.; and Rebecca Gorelov ’18 of New York, N.Y.

Meng is majoring in chemistry and mathematics. His future plan is to pursue a Ph.D. in biophysics. He wants to “explore the interface between theoretical physics and cell biology bench research, teach at the university level, particularly in a liberal arts setting, in which I am able not only to conduct research myself, but also inspire many more young minds to find their own niche and passion in science.”

This summer, Meng was selected as an Amgen Scholar in the 2017 Stanford Summer Research Program, and he hopes to work in a biophysical chemistry laboratory. Next year at Williams, he will work in Professor David Richardson’s lab conducting organic chemistry research to probe and develop synthetic methods.

“I feel honored and humbled to receive this scholarship,” Meng said. “Honestly, it is less an award for me than a recognition of all of my great mentorship and friendship, both of which have supported and shaped me throughout my Williams career. I am so fortunate to have Professor Richardson, Professor (Mihai) Stoiciu, and many other affectionate mentors alike to kindly guide me through some difficult times and selflessly impart their knowledge and wisdom onto me.”

Since his sophomore year, Meng has worked with Sarah Goh, associate professor of chemistry, in her polymer chemistry lab on the architectural properties of certain polymers that address central problems in chemotherapy drug delivery applications, such as poor selectivity, short in-vivo half-life, and low solubility. Building upon previous studies, Meng is now investigating how the architectural variations of the polymers affect both their glass transition temperatures and the stability and bioactivity of the drug when conjugated with the polymer.

Meng spent last summer working as part of a research group at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. He says the 10-week immersive experience affirmed his passion for science and for becoming a lifelong scholar. While at Scripps, he worked on research with Professor Ashok Deniz related to modulation of membrane binding of Hsp27 by phosphorylation and lipid composition.

A first-generation student from an immigrant family, Meng was born in Shenyang, China, and now calls Los Angeles, Calif., home. He is the son of Chang Meng and Ying Ma. At Williams, Meng is a member of the Williams Questbridge chapter, Koreans of Williams, the Chinese-American Student Organization, and has volunteered for the Northern County Care Coalition.

Meng’s scholarship brings to 47 the number of Goldwater Scholars from Williams since 1989. Last year’s winners, David Burt, Sarah Fleming and William Kirby are completing their senior year at Williams. The Goldwater Foundation was founded in 1986 in honor of Senator Barry M. Goldwater. The scholarship program is designed to foster and encourage exceptional students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering,


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.


Published April 25, 2017