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Science Student Wins Goldwater Scholarship for COVID-19 Work

Lund-Andersen Wins Prestigious Scholarship for Research on Animal Susceptibility to the Coronavirus

As a student at Sandpoint High School, Peik Lund-Andersen was less interested in his studies than skiing and recording fast running times on the cross country and track teams.

While he prepared himself for the Bulldog track, Lund-Andersen was undecided on an academic track. He completed the minimal high school science credits required for college and was uncertain of a major — until he perused a University of Idaho catalog.

“I was just looking for something that I was kind of interested in,” he said.

Three years later, Lund-Andersen, now a U of I junior, is a Goldwater scholar studying molecular biology and biotechnology.

“It’s still kind of hard to believe,” he said.

His undergraduate research to understand how COVID-19 spreads to humans and animals, and how to block the interaction between the cell and the virus, earned him a Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation award.

He and fellow Vandal Nicholas Pancheri, a junior biological engineering student from Moscow, are among 410 undergraduates nationally to earn scholarships of up to $7,500 to pay for tuition, fees, books and room and board. As part of U of I’s University Honors Program, Pancheri is researching how tendon function affects their development.

Peik Lund-Andersen in lab
U of I molecular biology major Peik Lund-Andersen was among 410 college students nationally to be awarded Goldwater Scholarships for their undergraduate research. Lund-Andersen’s work focuses on the susceptibility of animals to COVID-19.

Physics Professor Marty Ytreberg and Jagdish Patel, research assistant professor of biological sciences, were among College of Science faculty to mentor Lund-Andersen and support his nomination for the Goldwater award. The 21-year-old works in their lab, which has been at the forefront of the SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak, assessing the potential for animals to play host to the coronavirus.

“Failure to identify domestic and wild animals that are susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 virus opens the possibility that animals could prolong the current pandemic and cause future unexpected outbreaks in human and animal populations,” Patel said.

Part of Lund-Andersen’s research is to understand susceptibility of animals to the virus.

“He has demonstrated all the traits to be a leading researcher,” Patel said. “He is a very talented and productive researcher with a creative mindset and leadership skills.”

Lund-Andersen is excited to receive the award for his SARS-CoV-2 work and attributes his ability to shine academically to U of I’s undergraduate research opportunities.

“That is what has kept me engaged in my education,” he said. “One of the biggest things I learned early on is that you can get involved in undergraduate research if you want to and for me, that’s been a great experience.”

Article by Ralph Bartholdt, University Communications and Marketing.

Photos by University of Idaho Photographic Services

Published April 2021

Peik Lund-Andersen 2
Science student Peik Lund-Andersen joined biological engineering student Nicholas Pancheri as the two latest University of Idaho students to be selected to receive the prestigious Goldwater scholarship for the upcoming academic year.


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