April, 2007

Without scholarship and endowment, Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine would have never been created, Jane Goodall wouldn’t have been able to study chimpanzees, the Internet would never have been invented. In a day where scientific funding is harder and harder to secure, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship is an invaluable program that aids gifted undergraduate students headed for the sciences.

Recently, Tineke Cunning and her staff at Penn State’s Undergraduate Fellowships Office assisted four outstanding Schreyer Honors College students with their successful applications. Leah Liu, John McManigle and Vince Viscomi each recently won a Goldwater Scholarship, heralded as one of the most prestigious science awards for undergraduates. In addition, George Khoury received an honorable mention.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program is a distinguished undergraduate scholarship initiative established by Congress in 1986. Designed for students with a proven track record in scientific research, the Goldwater Scholarship provides financial assistance for the final year or years of undergraduate study for students who plan to pursue advanced degrees in mathematics, the sciences or engineering.

A sophomore pursuing a biochemistry and molecular biology major, Liu one day hopes to lead a research group at a university or government research institution. Her immediate plans are to research animal development at the biochemical and molecular levels and to teach at a university or government research institution. She said she is “very fortunate that the Goldwater Scholarship still supports aspiring scientists, even when research funding is being cut on many levels.”

McManigle is a physics major with minors in biology and mathematics. His Goldwater application focused on research he has done for two summers at the National Institutes of Health, and at Penn State with Distinguished Professor Paul Weiss on the Neurochip project. McManigle hopes to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. program and gain further training in molecular medicine. An emergency medical technician (EMT) on campus, he said, “Advances in imaging and molecular techniques will soon allow for more detailed diagnosis and specific treatment of a wide variety of disorders, and I hope to be able to contribute to these advances.”

Viscomi is pursuing triple majors in astronomy & astrophysics, physics and mathematics. He plans to complete a doctorate in physics and conduct research in particle physics and cosmology at a major research institution; “receiving the Goldwater is a great step in this direction,” he said. He works for the PSU-affliliated IceCube Neutrino Observatory as an undergraduate assistant, where he has helped to develop computer software that assists in the detection of neutrinos.

Khoury is a junior majoring in chemical engineering and pursuing a minor in chemistry. A recipient of several scholarship awards within his field and a leader in student government, he aims to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering following graduation from Penn State. He plans to use his advanced degree to teach at the university level and research novel fuels, alternative fuels and combustion engines.

Story by Josh Ambrose, undergraduate intern in the Office of University Fellowships.
From Penn State Live located at http://live.psu.edu/