Two students from UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science have been named 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars, and two received honorable mentions. UNT tied with the University of Houston for the most Goldwater honors at a public university in Texas.
"Each of these students is destined to be at the forefront of scientific achievement and innovation in years to come, in large measure because of the research-based undergraduate educations they have received at UNT within TAMS and the laboratories of their UNT research mentors," says James Duban, director of UNT's Office for Nationally Competitive Scholarships and chair of the Goldwater Faculty Nominating and Mentoring Committee.
Universities may nominate up to four students for the prestigious award, and students are chosen on the basis of their scientific research, grade point averages and other achievements. In 2009 and 2010, UNT students won more Goldwater scholarships than any other public university in Texas.
This year's scholars from UNT -- Patricia Nano and Andrew Ding -- are both students at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a two-year residential program at UNT that allows talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while earning their high school diplomas.
The Goldwater Foundation, a federally endowed agency established in 1986 to honor the former senator, provides scholars a maximum of $7,500 each year for one or two years to cover tuition, fees, books, and room and board.
Nano, who plans to earn a doctorate in molecular biology, conducted research to model the development and loss of primary cilia in the oligodendrocyte lineage, an endeavor that could advance the treatment of demyelinating diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and transverse myelitis. She worked with Jannon Fuchs, professor of biological sciences, on her research. Ding, who plans to major in chemistry at Columbia University, studied the interaction of water molecules with a graphite surface using an innovative method known as ccCA-ONIOM. Ding worked with Angela Wilson, professor of chemistry, on his research.
Two TAMS students -- Udayan Vaidya and Lee Chen -- received honorable mention. Chen, who plans to pursue a doctorate in biochemistry, worked with Douglas Root, associate professor of biological sciences, to investigate the effects of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy mutations on tropomyosin, a crucial heart-muscle controlling molecule. Vaidya, who will attend the University of Chicago and eventually earn a doctorate, developed a computational model to predict outbreaks of Dengue fever with the help of Armin Mikler, associate professor of computer science and engineering.
"I am delighted to see that these young scientists conducted their research in groundbreaking labs at UNT," says Richard Sinclair, dean of TAMS. "The teaming of bright academy students and great UNT faculty is an unbeatable combination."
Elizabeth Smith with UNT News Service can be reached at Elizabeth.Smith@unt.edu.