April 1, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 13

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    [chris calderone] by jason smithFourth-year chemistry student Chris Calderone will study at Cambridge University on his Churchill Scholarship.

    Chemistry student receives Churchill

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    Chris Calderone, fourth-year student and lover of chemistry, has been awarded an academic scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. Calderone is one of only 11 students in the United States to receive the Churchill Scholarship, a $25,000 award for one year of graduate study in science and technology at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge.

    Since an inspiring high school teacher explained the periodic table to Calderone, he has been fascinated by chemistry. “The periodic table takes the mysteries of molecules and reduces their complexity to counting columns and simple rules,” said Calderone. “The beauty of this blew me away.”

    Calderone, a chemistry major, is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, was a Peer Health Educator and has held various teaching assistant positions in chemistry. He has performed research on molecular recognition under the supervision of David Lynn, Professor in Chemistry.

    Calderone wants to deduce how molecules recognize one another and transfer information between one another using energy. For example, antibiotics prescribed for an ear infection stop growth by preventing bacteria from binding with a necessary building block––protein. “How does the bacteria get fooled into binding to the antibiotics instead?” Calderone wonders. At Cambridge, Calderone will study the exact mechanism that causes this reaction.

    “In a larger context, Chris is now exploring reactions that are central to all things that are alive––DNA replication,” said Lynn. “This leads him to questions like ‘How could replication possibly occur on another planet? Are there other materials out there that can do what DNA does?’” Lynn added that Calderone has the ability to work independently, identifying problems and performing the research necessary to design and conduct scientific experiments. “He will have a great experience with Dudley Williams at Churchill College,” he said.

    Calderone eventually plans to work where scientific advances often occur––at the interface between the fields of chemistry and biology. “Too often, chemists and biologists are unable to communicate,” said Calderone. “A breakthrough made by a chemist might be overlooked by a biologist because it was published in a journal written in the language of chemistry.” Calderone hopes to overcome this language barrier by concentrating on biochemistry at the Cambridge Centre for Molecular Recognition under the guidance of Professor Dudley Williams of Churchill College.

    Established in 1963 and funded by American contributions, the Churchill Scholarship was created to send talented American students pursuing advanced degrees in science and technology to Churchill College, according to Harold Epstein, executive director of the Winston Churchill Foundation. To be considered for a scholarship, students must be nominated by their school and complete an extensive application. Students then must pass a rigorous screening by a committee of former Churchill Scholars, he said. According to Susan Art, Assistant Dean and Churchill Scholarship Advisor, the University has had a total of eight Churchill Scholars since 1985.

    “Beyond being extremely bright, what makes Chicago students and other Churchill recipients dazzling is these students have remarkably broad interests,” said Epstein. “Churchill Scholars perform scientific research in labs, and they go to jazz clubs.” Sir Winston would be proud.

    Churchill College opened in 1960. It is committed to the study of science and maintaining its role as the national memorial to Sir Winston Churchill through the conservation of his archives and by providing scholarly access to them at the Churchill Archives Centre.