Two University of Virginia Biochemistry Majors Receive Goldwater Scholarships to Pursue Advanced Study in Science

April 3, 2008 — Two University of Virginia students are among 321 Goldwater Scholarship recipients announced this week.

Courtney M. Schroeder, 21, of South Boston, Va., and Adam C. Nichols-Nielander, 20, of Roanoke, both biochemistry majors, were selected from a field of 1,035 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

Mary Anne Kidwell, of Alexandria, Va., a biology and music major, and Joseph M. Schaffner, of Vienna, Va., a physics and mathematics major, received honorable mention in the competition.

The scholarship, valued at $7,500 a year for up to two years, is open to rising third- and fourth-year students pursuing degrees in science, mathematics and engineering.
"This is clearly a testament to the quality of our undergraduates and their ability to compete with students from across the U.S.," said Michael P. Timko, professor of biology and U.Va.'s faculty representative for the Goldwater Scholarship. "The recipients all have outstanding academic records and have been involved in independent research at the University and elsewhere."

"I am very proud of what this award stands for, and I'm glad I could help represent the chemistry department and our school," said Nichols-Nielander, who works in the laboratory of chemistry professor W. Dean Harman and wants to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. The Goldwater Scholarship will help him with that, he said.

A Harrison Undergraduate Research Award-winner, Nichols-Nielander has received intermediate honors, is a member of the Raven Society and a teaching assistant for the honors chemistry class. His research explores the activation of aromatic and small molecules using an electron-rich tungsten metal system.

Schroeder, a third-year student, interned last year at Sloan Kettering Institute in New York and has an internship this summer at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology in Germany. She will attend the Atlantic Coast Conference Undergraduate Research Conference at Florida State University as a representative of U.Va. in April. She plans to do research and teach at the university level.

"I am extremely honored to receive the Barry Goldwater Scholarship," said Schroeder. "This prestigious award makes me even more excited about my plans to pursue research in biochemistry."

She is researching glutamylation, a modification of microtubules, which give a cell its shape and ability to divide. Glutamylation may serve as a biological measuring stick in which cellular components, such as proteins, determine their proximity to the cell's periphery.

Schroeder is an Echols Scholar, a Rubin and Sarah Shaps Scholar (awarded by the Sloan-Kettering Institute for academic achievement) and received intermediate honors from the University.

Of the 321 Goldwater Scholars, 189 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. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines.