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Four Lafayette students have achieved national distinction as 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.

They are juniors Alison Campbell of West Chester, Pa., Elizabeth Ponder of Collegeville, Pa.; and Meghan Ramsey, originally from Malvern, Pa., now residing in Lakeville, Minn.; and sophomore Gabriella Engelhart of York, Pa.

Campbell is a Trustee Scholarship recipient majoring in biochemistry. Ponder is a Marquis Scholar majoring in biochemistry with a second, individualized major in cultural biomedicine. Ramsey is a Trustee Scholarship recipient majoring in neuroscience. Engelhart is a Marquis Scholar majoring in chemical engineering.

The Goldwater awards will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 next academic year (for Engelhart, the next two years).

Lafayette is among only a dozen colleges and universities to have all four of its Goldwater nominees accepted, reflecting its national reputation for academic excellence and its standing among America’s top institutions.

Established by Congress in 1986, the scholarship program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.

“Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs,” says Peggy Goldwater Clay, chair of the Goldwater Foundation. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 50 Rhodes Scholarships, including six of the 32 given in the United States this year, 55 Marshall Awards, and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

Among institutions receiving three scholarships are Yale, Penn, Columbia, MIT, Caltech, Northwestern, and Chicago. In all, 300 honorees from the 50 United States and Puerto Rico were chosen from 1,093 nominated sophomores and juniors.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Lafayette students have received the awards.

Last year’s recipients were Daniel Ruddy ’03 of Dunmore, Pa., a Marquis Scholar majoring in chemistry; and Alyssa Picchini ’04 of York, Pa., a Trustee Scholarship recipient majoring in neuroscience. In 2001, 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., received the scholarship, going on to graduate summa cum laude with honors in computer science, a perfect 4.0 grade point average, and membership in Phi Beta Kappa, among other honors.

Campbell is a member of the campus chapter of the American Chemical Society and Lafayette Pep Band and a volunteer in programs of the Landis Community Outreach Center. She intends to pursue a doctorate in chemistry and would like to conduct research in organometallic chemistry in industry or academia.

Working as an EXCEL Scholar with Chip Nataro, assistant professor of chemistry, she researched the electrochemistry of an organometallic compound known as 1,1′-bis(diphenylphosphino)ferrocene or dppf. She also investigated the effects of environmental conditions – such as temperature, concentration, and the nature of the supporting electrolyte – on the electrochemical reactivity of the compound. Dppf is used in conjunction with many metals as a catalyst. (See related story.)

In Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend.

“EXCEL provides an outstanding opportunity for hands-on involvement in a research environment,” she says. “The satisfaction and added knowledge it has brought me have positively reinforced that focus. I also had the opportunity to coauthor a technical paper on my research, something I would not have thought possible for a second-year undergraduate.”

Ponder plays saxophone and flute in musical ensembles and was a founding member of Lafayette’s Mock Trial Team. She’s a member of the McKelvy House Scholars program, in which about 20 students of high academic achievement and promise reside together in an historic off-campus house and participate in shared intellectual and social activities. She also a member of the campus chapter of American Chemical Society.

Ponder intends to pursue a doctorate in virology. She would like to become a professor at a competitive research institution, teaching and conducting research focused on viruses and human immune response to viral infections. She conducted research on the physiology of parasitic flatworm Echinostoma caprioni as an EXCEL Scholar with Bernard Fried, professor emeritus of biology, and Joseph Sherma, professor emeritus of chemistry. (See related story.)

“Professor Fried and Professor Sherma are extremely experienced and knowledgeable,” she says. “Their encouragement pushes me to test my own abilities in problem-solving, as well as to build practical skills in designing, carrying out, and summarizing original research for publication in scientific journals.”

Ponder is one of 22 Lafayette students who will present their research with faculty mentors April 4-6 at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science in Grantville, Pa.

Ramsey is an Academic All-America soccer standout who has started all 55 of Lafayette’s varsity games to date in her career as defender and midfielder. She intends to pursue an M.D. or Ph.D. in medical research. Her goal is to become a biomedical researcher in an academic hospital.

Ramsey presented EXCEL research she conducted with Yvonne Gindt, assistant professor of chemistry, on the structure and behavior of proteins — work with potential applications in understanding diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s — at the Intercollegiate Student Chemists Convention last year. (See related story.)

“When Dr. Gindt asked me to stay for the summer, I felt it was a great opportunity. I thought I could learn a great deal and help direct my career goals. Also, Lafayette makes the opportunity attractive by providing housing,” Ramsey says. “I don’t think I would have had an opportunity to do research like this at many schools.”

Engelhart is a host and tour guide for the admissions office. A member of the campus chapters of the Society of Women Engineers and American Institute of Chemical Engineers, she participates in club field hockey.

She intends to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental chemical engineering. She would like to teach graduate students and conduct research, facing environmental problems with a chemical engineer’s process-oriented approach, using the tools of mathematics, chemistry, and environmental awareness.

Engelhart conducted research with distinguished scientists from around the world last semester at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. She participated in the Semester in Environmental Science program, sponsored by The Ecosystems Center, a branch of the Marine Biological Laboratory. Participants investigate forests, ponds, and estuaries on Cape Cod and undertake independent research projects at local sites. (See related story.)

“My rigorous courses at Lafayette definitely prepared me for the challenging curriculum and independent research project,” she says.

Categorized in: Academic News