Alstott named Goldwater Scholar

High school experience helped set SEHS grad apart from field

-Submitted photo
Emma Alstott, a St. Edmond High School graduate, was recently honored with the Goldwater Scholarship. Alstott is currently a student at Iowa State University.

AMES — While studying overseas, St. Edmond High School graduate Emma Alstott received some exciting news.

Alstott, a global resource systems and horticulture major at Iowa State University, was awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering in the United States. The scholarships are awarded by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to encourage outstanding undergraduate students to pursue careers in STEM research.

“It really was such an incredible honor,” Alstott said. “I was so surprised when I heard the news that I received it. I am so honored and thankful to be named a Goldwater Scholar. It means so much more to me than a scholarship.

“It is recognition of the research I am currently conducting and my potential as a researcher,” she added. “It is such a privilege to be selected and acknowledged as part of the next generation of research leaders in STEM.”

Alstott’s past exposure to international studies from her days as a Gael helped set her apart from a field of more than 1,300 undergraduates nominated for the scholarship. While in high school, she spent two weeks in Kosovo, a Balkan nation that formalized a sister-state relationship with Iowa.

“After experiencing what it was like in another country and seeing so many people from a different part of the world,” Alstott said, “I knew I wanted to have an international focus as well as an agricultural focus.”

In her first semester as a Cyclone, Alstott took part in research with the ISU EARTH Program, which has offered students opportunities for education, outreach and research on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands since 2010. She conducted a literature review that helped create a guide on the ecological importance of 25 plant species native to national parks in the Virgin Islands.

Later, she began conducting research on bacterial threats to fruits such as apples, pears, berries and grapes.

Alstott got her start in fourth grade when she joined her local 4-H and began helping a neighbor’s farm and in her home garden.

“Since these were hobby farms, we didn’t have huge resources,” Alstott said. “That meant that I had a lot of time to figure issues out myself. I gained such an interest in pathogens and disease prevention.”

This semester, she is studing at the American Farm School in Greece at a private institution in Thessaloniki that focuses on precision agriculture and sustainable farming methods to serve rural populations in Greece and the Balkans.

Studying abroad meant that she had to spend a lot of time on the phone with her friends and family the day she learned she’d been selected for the Goldwater Scholarship.

“It was very surreal telling everyone that I’d gotten the scholarship,” Alstott said. “It’s such a big validation of the amount of work I’ve put into my research experience at Iowa State.”

She is on track to finish her undegraduate work in spring 2026 and hopes to earn a master’s and Ph.D. in plant pathology combatting pathogens that threaten fruits and vegetables.


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