April 20, 2007

Students bank grad-school scholarships

Four students in the College were recently awarded prestigious academic scholarships aimed at encouraging scientific research, and another was granted a fellowship in Byzantine Studies.

Third-years Matt Biancalana, Ryan Johnson, Zach Rodgers, and second-year Elisabet Pujadas were named recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship, awarded annually to about 300 students who display excellence and promise in mathematics, engineering, and science. The University selects four applicants each year for submission to an external scholarship committee that awards $7,500 scholarships for one to two years of graduate study.

“The Goldwater recipients represent the best in interdisciplinary undergraduate science. They are destined to be leaders in their fields,” said Professor Jose Quintans, master of the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division.

Pujadas, a biology major, described the early stages of the process: “You start attending a meeting, collecting a few handouts and realizing that this is a real possibility....In the meantime, you bang your head against ‘what do you want to do with your life’ type questions.”

All four recipients plan to pursue Ph.D.s in their fields. Rodgers, a physics, chemistry, and biology major, plans to research ways of correcting motion contamination in medical imagery. Pujadas plans to study systems biology, and Biancalana, a chemistry major, is interested in pharmaceutical research aimed at combating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Johnson, one of only 28 math majors awarded the prize this year, hopes to study theoretical mathematics.

On the other side of the academic spectrum, fourth-year history and Classics major Nicholas Marinides was awarded the Bliss Prize Fellowship in Byzantine Studies, granted to just one person each year. The award covers two years of graduate school tuition and housing, as well as summer research. Marinides is interested in studying the history of Christian monasticism and interactions between religious groups.