Two students in UNT's Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science were named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars, and a third TAMS student received an honorable mention in the prestigious research competition.
Goldwater scholars are considered to be among the country's most prestigious scholarships awarded to students planning careers in mathematics, science and engineering. All college sophomores and juniors are eligible to compete for the scholarships, which provide a maximum of $7,500 each year for one or two years to cover tuition, fees, books and room and board.
TAMS students Favyen Bastani, a computer science and engineering major, and Amanda Quay, a chemistry major,were among the 12 Texas students awarded scholarships this year. TAMS student Mitchell Powell, a chemistry major, was among seven Texas students to receive honorable mentions.
All three students are seniors in TAMS, 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. Although the students are technically high school students; they have earned enough college credit to be classified as college sophomores, making them eligible to participate in the Goldwater Scholarship program.
UNT has had 50 students -- including the 2012 winners -- win Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships since 1996. Universities may nominate up to four students for the award each year, and students are chosen on the basis of their scientific research, grade point averages and other achievements.
About the scholars
A highly advanced undergraduate computer scientist, Bastani has worked extensively in two major research environments and has a co-authored an article (in press) for IEEE Transactions on Services Computing. As attested by Hui Ma of Cisco Systems -- with whom Bastani worked on algorithms to solve complex optimization problems -- Bastani is at the forefront of making significant contributions to artificial-intelligence-based heuristic optimization. Bastani has also worked in the UNT Computer Science laboratory of Yan Huang, associate professor of computer science and engineering.
Quay has worked in the analytical chemistry group of William Acree, chair of the Department of Chemistry and professor of chemistry, to co-author six published studies, with applications, in some cases, that help predict which chemicals will best help decompose pharmaceutical waste in aquatic environments. Quay's research calculates the concentration at which a given drug molecule exhibits toxicity, providing insight into which pharmaceutical compounds pose an environmental risk to aquatic life. Her research also helps identify the most efficient way to decompose the most threatening of these compounds.
While planning a career in neurobiology, Powell has demonstrated his research versatility by working in the computational chemistry laboratory of Angela Wilson, Regents Professor of chemistry, to study the foundations of biomedical compounds containing transition metals. Wilson is also co-director of UNTs Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling (CASCaM). Powell autonomously and effectively helped the Wilson research team determine the most accurate DFT (density functional theory) method for transition-metal heat-of-formation calculations by identifying and quantifying 10 different candidate DFT methods known to yield reliable results for the energy properties of main-group molecules. There has been limited work in this area for transition metal species. As detailed by Wilson, Powell's research has contributed immensely to protocols for future heats-of-formation-of-transition-metal research.
Alyssa Yancey with UNT News Service can be reached at Alyssa.Yancey@unt.edu.