Cal State San Bernardino chemistry major David Murillo has been awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the United States for natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.

Murillo, an Adelanto resident, is one of 413 Goldwater Scholars named for 2023. Since 1989, the Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has awarded 10,283 scholarships, according to their website.

Named for the late Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater Scholarship Program seeks to identify, encourage and financially support college sophomores and juniors who show exceptional promise of becoming the nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields.

The characteristics the Goldwater Foundation seeks in a Goldwater Scholar include: strong commitment to a research center in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering; effective display of intellectual intensity in the sciences, mathematics and engineering; and potential for a significant future contribution to research in their chosen field.

Murillo, who is also pursuing a minor in physics, said he has always enjoyed learning and gravitated toward the natural sciences, but had difficulty choosing a specific science.

“It was an introduction to organic chemistry class that sparked my interest in chemistry,” Murillo said. “I continue in chemistry as I enjoy the principles that govern the interactions of molecules and utilizing those principles to guide the design of materials for bettering the environment and fighting climate change.”

Initially, Murillo went to Victor Valley Community College to get a degree and join the workforce quickly, but after serving as a chemistry tutor and participating in a short computational chemistry winter internship at Victor Valley, Murillo changed his mind.

I knew I wanted to stay in school, learn more and continue on a path where I could learn more every day,” Murillo said. “For that reason, I came to CSUSB to attain a bachelor’s degree. My experience here as a learning assistant, researcher, student and club officer has strengthened my conviction in this path.”

Murillo’s short-term goals are to continue to get good results in research and in his academic studies. Over the summer he will be conducting research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of the MIT Summer Research Program. In the fall semester, he will be focusing on applying to graduate schools, research and contribute to the campus community and the greater community by working with CSUSB’s Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) chapter to promote diversity in science.

His long-term goals include completing a doctoral degree in chemistry or material science.

“I would like to teach at a university level at a primarily undergraduate institution that serves disadvantaged and underrepresented students in science,” Murillo said. “I’m not sure where I’ll end up, but ideally, a CSU in Southern California would be my choice. Ultimately, it depends on where a position is available. As long as I can continue to research, educate and foster student growth, I’d be happy anywhere.”

He credits chemistry and biology professors Renwu “John” Zhang and Kimberly  Cousins as mentors and helping foster his growth as an academic.

Murillo said Zhang was a valuable source of knowledge in helping him develop his independence as a researcher and cultivate his skills as a lab manager, researcher, and mentor to other research students. Cousins, who is also the department chair,  had a great influence on him as a professor, research consultant and encouraged him to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship, working with him to develop his research essay.

In addition, he said the Center for Advanced Functional Materials and the CREST II grant greatly influenced his college career by providing opportunities to him at Victor Valley and here at CSUSB.

Murillo said that being a CSUSB student is to be at a campus “with a diverse student body with people that come here from all walks of life at different stages of their life. There are plenty of opportunities to advance your academic and professional career, but also opportunities to meet new people.”

He said he would tell students considering coming here that “CSUSB provides faculty that care about their students and will work with you to find opportunities to explore your interests and fund your studies.”

Learn more about the Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation at its website.