April 26, 2007
Vol. 26 No. 15

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    Four College students get Goldwater support

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    Four aspiring scientists have just received an early reward for exceptional academic pursuits. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has named the four students in the College 2007 Barry M. Goldwater scholars.

    “Although it won’t make doing math any easier, it will definitely make my life a little easier,” said College third-year Ryan Johnson, whose concentration is Mathematics. “Being a Goldwater scholar will make a big difference, and it certainly is a great honor.”

    Established by Congress in 1986, Goldwater scholarships are annually awarded to second- and third-year college students who aspire to careers in science, mathematics and engineering. The scholars receive up to $7,500 to fund college expenses, including tuition, fees, books and room and board.

    In addition to Johnson, Chicago’s other 2007 Goldwater scholars are third-year Matt Biancalana, second-year Elisabet Pujadas and third-year Zachary Rodgers. This year, the foundation awarded scholarships to 317 students from a pool of 1,110 nominated by colleges nationwide.

    “They look for people they think will contribute to their fields through graduate study and research,” Johnson said. “And those are things I am definitely planning on doing.”

    Pujadas said of receiving the scholarship, “It hasn’t even really sunk in yet. I believe it will give me more confidence in myself, knowing that people believe in me, in what I say and in what I hope to do in the future.”

    Pujadas, whose concentration is Biology, said she never assumed she would win a scholarship, but always approached her studies with focus and determination. I never dreamed of this,” she said. “For the last few months, I’ve been optimistic, but deep down, I had no idea what would happen.”

    But as far as her career is concerned, Pujadas already has begun dreaming. She hopes to earn a graduate degree in Systems Biology and eventually conduct research on the subject, while developing a systems understanding of medicine.

    “Also, it would be wonderful to teach someday—that is definitely a goal of mine,” Pujadas added.

    For Biancalana, winning a Goldwater scholarship reassures him that science supports young researchers. “I look forward to continuing my research throughout the remainder of my time at Chicago and polishing my skills as a molecular biologist,” said Biancalana, who is a double-concentrator in Biological Chemistry and Chemistry.

    As a graduate student, Biancalana hopes to “build on this rigorous interdisciplinary education from Chicago and use it to further our knowledge of protein misfolding diseases.”

    Rodgers, who has a triple concentration in Physics, Chemistry and Biology, said that during his academic career he has always been most drawn to Mathematics and the Physical Sciences, but that the “big problems” in science, such as finding a cure for cancer and how to better understand the molecular basis of human cognition, are what interest him most of all.

    “For this reason, I hope to have a career in biophysical research, where I can use physical and mathematical approaches to solve important problems in biology and medicine,” Rodgers said. “I also would like to be directly involved in the application of my research to medical practice and participate in the clinical side of medicine.”