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Two Lafayette students have achieved national distinction as the recipients of prestigious Goldwater Scholarships. Awarded for academic merit, the Goldwater is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering.

The winners are Daniel Ruddy of Dunmore, Pa., a junior Marquis Scholar majoring in chemistry, and Alyssa Picchini of York, Pa., a sophomore Trustee Scholarship recipient majoring in neuroscience. The announcement was made by Hans Mark, chairman of the board of trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Having two Goldwater recipients reflects and enhances Lafayette’s national reputation for academic excellence and its standing among America’s top institutions.

Ruddy and Picchini are among 309 honorees from the 50 United States and Puerto Rico who were chosen from 1,155 nominated sophomores and juniors.

Their achievement builds on success for Lafayette, marking the third consecutive year that Lafayette students have received Goldwater scholarships. Last year, Daniel Swarr ’03 of Clifton Park, N.Y., a Marquis Scholar double majoring in physics and mathematics, was honored. In 2000, Matthew Patton ’02 of Los Alamos, N.Mex., a computer science major, received the scholarship.

Picchini is an EXCEL Scholar assisting Wendy L Hill, professor of psychology and chair of neuroscience, with research on hormonal changes that occur in male and female athletes as a result of winning and losing. They are also investigating the effect of differing levels of brain serotonin on diet self-selection in rats.

“Lafayette’s academic program is giving me a strong foundation in the sciences along with the tools I need to achieve my professional goals,” says Picchini. “EXCEL has provided me with a chance to conduct laboratory research that most undergraduates are not given. I look forward to earning my doctorate and conducting my own research.”

“Alyssa takes a no-nonsense approach to conducting research: she figures out what has to be done and she does it,” Hill says. “As a result, she has been a wonderful addition to my laboratory. I have been impressed with her initiative and her ability to think critically, which are vital in becoming an independent scholar.”

“My career goal is to be one of the leading researchers in the field of neurobiology, investigating questions that are interesting, exciting, and challenging,” Picchini says. “Most important, though, I want the research I conduct to benefit others.”

Ruddy explored reactions of two types of organic compounds and a special group of catalysts in EXCEL research with William H. Miles, associate professor of chemistry, this year. He has also done EXCEL work in analytical chemistry with Joseph Sherma, professor emeritus of chemistry, in organometallic chemistry with Chip Nataro, assistant professor of chemistry, and in surface growth kinetics with Kenneth Haug, assistant professor of chemistry.

“Lafayette’s chemistry program has allowed me to get firsthand knowledge in classrooms from Ph.D.’s, not teaching assistants, plus hands-on experience with state-of-the-art-equipment in labs. In addition, I have been able to participate in research since my sophomore year and gain the experience of teaching a general chemistry lab section,” Ruddy says. “My undergraduate program has more than prepared me for graduate school, where I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in the synthesis of electronically important chemicals.”

“I was delighted when Dan expressed an interest in doing research with me. He immediately obtained useful results because he understood the project, was independent, and had a strong work ethic,” Miles says. “I believe he will be highly successful at a top-ten graduate program in chemistry.”

Ruddy hopes to work for “10 or 15 years” on research and development in the electronic chemicals industry, then “pursue my own research interests with students as a college professor.”

Mark says, “Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs.” Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 44 Rhodes Scholarships, including six of the 32 given in the United States this year, 39 Marshall Awards, and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, established by Congress in 1986, provides a continuing source of highly qualified individuals for academic study and research in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.

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Goldwater Scholarship. Daniel Ruddy ’03 received the premier national undergraduate award of its type in math, science, and engineering. One of his research mentors is William Miles, associate professor of chemistry.

Categorized in: Academic News