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A First: Four Awarded Goldwater Scholarships at LSU

Remarkably, the LSU Lady Tigers basketball team will play in their fifth-straight NCAA Women’s Final Four this year, becoming only the second team to accomplish that feat.

It is an achievement of which the entire LSU community can be proud. At the same time, however, there is another “final four” serving as a source of pride for the University.

For the first time ever, all four of LSU’s Goldwater finalists have been chosen to receive the nationally competitive Goldwater Scholarship, as selected by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. The scholarships will be used to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

“The university is exceptionally proud of our four students in earning the coveted Goldwater Fellowships,” said LSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Astrid Merget. “That impressive recognition, garnered through a rigorous and competitive process, not only honors the sterling scholastic achievements of these fine students; the recognition also attests to the academic excellence and competitiveness of LSU. These students in their commitment to science, math and engineering are also responding to a profound national need and thus are serving a civic cause with their brilliance and motivation in their career pursuits.”

The 2008 LSU Goldwater Scholars are Brian Goh, a Baton Rouge native and biochemistry major; Leah Rebecca Muller, a Hammond, La., native and bioengineering major; Michael Parent, a Mandeville, La., native and chemical engineering major; and Nabil Thalji, a Baton Rouge native and biochemistry/chemistry major. All four are also members of the LSU Honors College.

“These outstanding students stand as testimony to what happens when students take advantage of the superior research opportunities and academic experiences in LSU’s STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – disciplines. As undergraduates, they have published in recognized journals, participated in international conferences and engaged in cutting-edge research in their fields. They are clearly among the best in the nation, and, as a group, represent a milestone for LSU,” said Drew Lamonica Arms, director of fellowship advising at the LSU Honors College.

Each year, a university can nominate a maximum of four students for the scholarship. LSU has a rigorous internal selection process to choose the four nominees who compete nationally. The internal selection committee for the 2008 competition was composed of Isiah Warner, LSU vice chancellor in the Office of Strategic Initiatives; Frederick Sheldon, LSU professor of biological sciences; Steven Watkins, LSU associate chair of chemistry; Marybeth Lima, LSU professor of biological and agricultural engineering; Todd Monroe, Mr. & Mrs. C.W. Armstrong Assistant Professor in the LSU Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering; and Brad Schaefer, LSU professor of physics and astronomy.

“We had many outstanding internal applicants for the Goldwater this year. This is reflected in the outstanding success we have had this year in the national competition,” said Warner.

Goh plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in cell biology and hopes to conduct research in the application of tissue-specific adult stem cells as a method of cell therapeutics in regenerative medicine.

Muller plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and hopes to conduct research in biomedical engineering, concentrating on the development of biomaterials and gene therapies for use in combating disease.

Thalji plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. with Ph.D. in biochemistry and hopes to conduct research in bioorganic chemistry as a faculty member of a medical school.

Parent plans to pursue a Ph.D. in a nanoscience or a similar field and hopes to conduct research in the science, technology and/or engineering of nanostructures at a national lab or with industry. Parent is also a scholar in the LSU Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program, a program funded by National Science Foundation and Research Corporation and managed by the Office of Strategic Initiatives.

“Michael Parent is one of the stars of the LA-STEM program.” said Warner. “He is an excellent representative of the program and the university as a whole.”

The Board of Trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation awarded 321 scholarships for the 2008–09 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,035 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred eighty-nine of the scholars are men, 132 are women and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Thirty-three scholars are mathematics majors, 227 are science and related majors, 52 are majoring in engineering and nine are computer science majors.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

Requirements for the scholarship include U.S. citizenship, being ranked in the top one-fourth of their class, institutional nomination and a planned career in science, math or engineering. For more information, visit www.act.org/goldwater .

The LA-STEM program admits students who show great potential to succeed in science, technology, engineering or mathematics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and who have distinguished themselves as scholars and leaders. The students are committed to promoting diversity in the sciences in their undergraduate and graduate careers. The program focuses on mentoring, education and research as a way to support LSU’s mission of challenging undergraduates to achieve the highest levels of intellectual and personal development. For more information, visit http://www.lsu.edu/lastem/ .

LSU’s Office of Fellowship Advising was created to assist students in applying for prestigious post-graduate scholarships and fellowships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates, Mitchell, Truman and Goldwater awards. Students interested in applying for these and other scholarship opportunities or for more information, contact fellowships@lsu.edu

Ernie Ballard | LSU Office of Public Affairs
Spring 2008


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