From the College of Natural Sciences
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Physics and Biochemistry Undergraduates Win Goldwater Scholarships

Physics and Biochemistry Undergraduates Win Goldwater Scholarships

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering.

AUSTIN, Texas–Two undergraduates in the College of Natural Sciences have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships, the premier undergraduate award of its type in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering.

goldwater-scholarsThe one- and two-year scholarships, awarded annually to outstanding second- and third-year college students, will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

This year’s recipients are William Berdanier and Leslie Chang.

William Berdanier, a Dean’s Scholars Honors physics and mathematics major from Boulder, Colorado, is being recognized for his work in “inertial confinement fusion,” which seeks to achieve fusion energy by compressing a pellet of fuel to extremely high temperatures and pressures.

Working first at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and then with University of Texas physicist Gennady Shvets, Berdanier has demonstrated that by propagating an ion beam pulse through a weak background of plasma, the beam can be neutralized very effectively and at a low energy cost.

“Will, who is the only freshman I’ve ever accepted into my lab, started working with me as an unpaid student assistant,” says Shvets. “However, his performance was so overwhelmingly effective that I converted his position into a paid one after one month. Since then he has consistently performed at the level of our best graduate students at the university."

Chang is a Dean’s Scholars Honors biochemistry major as well as a biomedical engineering double major from Toronto, Ontario. She’s being recognized for her work in the protein engineering laboratory of professors George Georgiou and Brent Iverson. The goal of her work is to engineer an enzyme to be used as a cancer therapeutic against malignancies with metabolic deficiencies.

Her long-term goal is to pursue an MD/PhD and eventually to combat pediatric cancers both in the laboratory and in the clinical setting.

The 275 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from 1,095 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law in 1986. The scholarship program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

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Saturday, 23 September 2017

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