University of Virginia Student Sarah Kim Receives Goldwater Scholarship

Sarah Kim headshot

Sarah Kim

April 8, 2011 — University of Virginia undergraduate Sarah Kim has received a research scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation for 2011.

Kim, 20, of Annandale, is a third-year biology major in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Also, Vladislav Sviderskiy, 20, of Henrico, a third-year chemistry major in the College, received an honorable mention in the Goldwater competition.

Kim is among 275 students who received scholarships, given by the Goldwater Foundation to second- and third-year students who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

"Receiving this award is such an amazing privilege and honor I thank God for," Kim said. "I know I would have never gotten this far without the amazing support of my family and friends, and my research mentor, professor Deborah Roach. Most of all I thank God for guiding my steps and giving me the opportunity to excel in my studies."

Kim said she felt intimidated applying the prestigious scholarship, and said she had colleagues whom she thought were equally, if not more, deserving of the scholarship, but she said Roach encouraged her.

"Actually receiving the Goldwater was a very humbling experience for me," Kim said. "It will continue to inspire me as I dive into my fourth year and start applying for graduate schools next fall."

"The Goldwaters are prestigious awards,” said Michael Timko, a biology professor in the College and U.Va.'s representative to the Goldwater program. "And when students apply for other grants and fellowships, having won a Goldwater provides validation for the quality of the student."

Kim is researching the effects of aging in field populations of plantago lanceolata, commonly known as ribwort plantain, English plantain and narrowleaf plantain.

"Even though plants have meristematic tissue – stem cells for plants – that allow them to grow throughout their entire lifespans, past studies have strongly suggested that plants still show signs of demographic aging," Kim said.

"She is fantastic," said Roach, an associate professor in the Department of Biology. "She has been in my lab since the first semester and she has not only taken challenging courses, but she has taken a leadership role in the lab and developed her own line of research."

Roach said while most students in biology are interested in medicine, Kim has always been fascinated by plants, devising many of her own experiments with them.

"She is a very humble person and this is a real honor," said Roach, who is impressed with Kim's intellectual rigor. "She never stops asking questions."

Timko described Kim as a special student doing exciting work.

"She is exceptionally well-rounded and doing important work in population ecology and biological diversity," he said. "Her work has potential to have an impact down the road and receiving a Goldwater will promote her career and help her get recognition by other granting and fellowship agencies."

The daughter of Soonok Kim and Sun Yong Kim and a graduate of the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Kim was a Second-Year Science Scholar [link: ] and is an Echols Scholar, and has received Intermediate Honors and been on the Dean's List for five semesters. She has also received a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award. She is a member of Cavalier Christian Fellowship, the Wildlife Club and Cavalier Judo. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in conservation biology.

Sviderskiy, who is specializing in biochemistry, is researching metal catalysts for water oxidation to allow more efficient storage of solar energy in chemical fuels. He recently received a Harrison Undergraduate Research grant to continue his research.

The son of Oleg Sviderskiy and Irina Sviderskaya and a graduate of Mills E. Godwin High School, he is a College Science Scholar, an Echols Scholar and a Beekman Scholars finalist. He has been a recipient of Intermediate Honors and a College Science Scholars Research Stipend. He is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society and service vice president of Alpha Phi Omega. He is a resident of Brown College and a Madison House Medical Services volunteer. Sviderskiy said he wants to pursue a medical degree.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established in 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Sen. Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

-- by Matt Kelly

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

Office of University Communications