Gorres ’21 Earns Goldwater Scholarship

April 02, 2020

By Luke Woodling ’17MBA

Issac Gorres ’21 working with fellow students in a biology lab.
Rollins’ interdisciplinary curriculum has nurtured Isaac Gorres ’21’s professional pathway, which combines his passion for art and science.Photo by Scott Cook.

Isaac Gorres ’21 has earned a Goldwater Scholarship, the preeminent undergraduate award in the fields of mathematics, engineering, and the natural sciences.

Isaac Gorres ’21 has earned a 2020 Goldwater Scholarship, the country’s most prestigious undergraduate science scholarship. He was one of just 396 students to earn the highly selective scholarship from a pool of more than 5,000 applicants.

The award, which was established by Congress in honor of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, is given to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, engineering, and the natural sciences. It covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Gorres, a double major in biochemistry/molecular biology and art history, plans to pursue a PhD in conservation research and a career in contemporary art conservation. The discipline, which centers on employing analytical techniques and treatment methodologies in a museum setting to aid in the preservation of artworks, is a perfect fit for Gorres’ intersecting interests in art and science.

Gorres’ career focus was crystallized this past summer through a research project with art history professor Susan Libby, which was made possible by Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program. The pair’s research focused on conservation techniques that can be employed by small museums to responsibly care for contemporary artworks.

Isaac Gorres and art history professor Susan Libby present their collaborative research at Rollins’ Cornell Fine Arts Museum.
Gorres and art history professor Susan Libby present their collaborative research at Rollins’ Cornell Fine Arts Museum.

Gorres and Libby will present their research virtually this summer at the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries’ 2020 annual conference. They also plan to publish their findings in an art conservation journal.

“I’ve developed relationships with my professors that exceed any of the relationships that I’ve had with any of my mentors previously,” says Gorres. “It’s amazing how much Rollins professors care about their students and how invested they are in our lives.”

Gorres based his Goldwater proposal on another research project that will combine his particular passions. With that endeavor, Gorres will work to develop a low-cost, easily reproducible procedure to help museums identify what pigment molecules are in their paintings as a first step in heading off microbial degradation. He plans to launch the project in partnership with biology professor Brendaliz Santiago-Narvaez this fall.

This past summer, Gorres funded a research trip to the Art Biennale in Venice—one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious cultural exhibitions—with a Rollins College Scholarship for High-Impact Practices and a research/travel grant through the art department. He’s also planning a research project with biology professor Jay Pieczynski for his honors thesis.

“I think it would have been impossible for me to do the research that I’m doing and to get the scholarships that I’ve received at any other institution,” says Gorres. “Rollins has made it extremely easy for me to excel academically and to conduct the interdisciplinary research that I’m conducting.”

Research is just one of the ways Rollins has helped nurture Gorres’ pursuit of his personal and professional goals.

He has gained valuable experience as the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (CFAM)’s Fred W. Hicks Curatorial Intern and as a docent at CFAM and The Alfond Inn. He has logged hundreds of volunteer hours in CFAM’s art education department through the College’s Bonner Leaders Program. And, as a 2019 Millennium Fellow, he led an art program for children with autism at The Paragon School. That project, part of CFAM’s Art Time Outreach Program, culminated in an exhibition at the museum that chronicled his students’ work.

Now, with the world’s top undergraduate science scholarship on his resume, Gorres is setting his sights even higher. In fact, he plans to pursue a Fulbright fellowship at the Rijksmuseum, a Dutch national museum based in Amsterdam, before moving on to a PhD program in art conservation.

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