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Biology student Michael Pashkevich ('17) receives prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for spider research

Michael Pashkevich, a Biological Sciences major at Loyola University New Orleans, was awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes top students who wish to pursue scholarly research in the sciences, mathematics and engineering and brings recipients one- to two-year scholarships valued up to $7,500. The national scholarship will support Pashkevich’s ongoing and future research on arachnids, conducted at Loyola under Dr. Aimée K. Thomas.

Pashkevich’s ongoing honors thesis research is assessing the effects of white-tailed deer herbivory on the diversity and species richness of spider communities in a southeast Louisiana bottomland hardwood forest. From July–October 2015, he sampled two plots, one exposed to white-tailed deer herbivory and the other exposed since 2006, using four collection techniques. Pashkevich sampled monthly―at various times of day and night―to access all subsets of the present spider communities. Currently, Loyola researchers are identifying more than 1,000 preserved spiders which they will use to approximate the overall diversity and species richness of the regional spider communities. “As I intend to research tropical spiders for my postgraduate degrees and professional career, this project has enabled me to practice the field and laboratory skills needed to succeed as a population ecologist,” said Pashkevich, who is currently studying abroad in Scotland, where he is pursuing additional scholarly research. “As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm thrilled about the scholarship and am so grateful for all the wonderful mentorship and support I received from the professors who assisted with my application.”


The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The Barry Goldwater Foundation aims to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.