U.Va. Students Earn Array of Scholarships, Research Awards

May 8, 2009 — University of Virginia students earn impressive scholarships, fellowships and awards, many of them related to scientific and social research they conduct.

Among the members of the Class of 2009 are four Goldwater Scholarship winners, a Churchill Scholar, a Truman Scholar, a German Academic Exchange Service Scholar, two Fulbright scholars and three Davis Peace Prize winners.

In addition, graduates have received a variety of research awards, including Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, which fund about 40 projects a year. More than half of U.Va. undergraduates engage in some form of significant research, which often takes place outside the classroom, and Thomas C. Skalak, vice president for research, wants all undergraduates to have research experience.

A recent symposium on undergraduate engineering students' research projects included presentations on new ways of repairing aortic aneurysms and disrupting the mutation of flu viruses. Some of this year's Harrison Award winners are looking at terrorism, women's engagement in politics, prostate cancer and fetal development in rural Appalachia.

The Churchill Scholarship

Courtney Schroeder, who is receiving a degree in chemistry with a specialization in biochemistry, has received a $50,000 scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States.

Schroeder, 22, of South Boston, Va., will study structural biology at the University of Cambridge in England. Schroeder has also conducted research at the Max-Planck Institute of Immunobiology in Freiburg, Germany, an interdisciplinary research institution working with diverse areas of immunobiology and developmental biology.

An Echols Scholar, Schroeder also received a Goldwater Scholarship and a Rubin and Sarah Shaps Scholarship, awarded by the Sloan-Kettering Institute. She is past chairwoman of the Undergraduate Research Network and was a teaching assistant for a general chemistry course.

The Truman Scholarship

Xiao Wang, who is graduating from the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, was a 2008 Truman Scholarship winner.

Wang, of Charleston, S.C., received his bachelor's degree in economics last year as a third-year student and is now receiving a master's degree in public policy. The $30,000 Truman Scholarship provides financial support for graduate study and leadership training for students committed to public service.

Wang, whose family moved to the United States from China nearly 20 years ago, plans to study international law, especially laws and institutions in developing countries. Eventually, he would like to work in international development for an organization such as the United Nations or the World Bank.

Wang has received a Harrison Research Award and a Dean's Scholarship for Independent Research to study democratic transition, international trade and economic regulation, with an emphasis on Hong Kong. He has published two papers on his research and presented some of his findings to the Virginia Social Science Association. 

An Echols Scholar and Jefferson Scholar, Wang has been a Lawn resident and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa as a third-year student. He is a member of the Miller Center Public Service Fellows Program, the Madison House community service organization and the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society. He also served as a teacher's aid at local pre-kindergarten and elementary schools.

The DAAD Scholarship

William A. Callison, 23, of Canton, Ohio, will spend a year studying in Berlin after receiving a $13,000 scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service, a publicly funded independent organization of higher education institutions in Germany.

Callison is graduating with a degree in political and social thought and will continue his work in Berlin, where he plans to study how 19th-century philosopher Friedrich W. Nietzsche and Karl Marx conceptualized politics and "the masses," what it means for  democracy in the 20th and 21st centuries, and how contemporary political theorists use Nietzsche's thought for or against democratic ideals. Callison has already spent time in Germany studying Nietzsche and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, another 19th-century philosopher.

While at U.Va., Callison received a Walter H. Sokel Prize for the best undergraduate essay in the German department, and he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

After one or two years in Germany, he plans to return to the U.S. and pursue a Ph.D. in political theory.

Goldwater Scholarships

Four members of the graduating class received Goldwater Scholarship as undergraduates for their research.

Courtney M. Schroeder will study structural biology at the University of Cambridge in England.

Adam C. Nichols-Nielander of Roanoke, a biochemistry major, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Jennifer A. Cano of Mansfield, Conn., is a physics/mathematics major who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics/mathematics and conduct research in pure mathematics, mathematical physics, high-energy or particle physics.

Sean A. Cantrell of Williamsburg, a physics/mathematics major, plans to earn a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and conduct research to probe the most fundamental aspects of nature.

Fulbright Scholars

Deborah Chu, 23, of Richmond, graduating with a degree in American studies, will go to Taiwan for a one-year English teaching assistantship, teaching English to elementary or middle school students.

While at U.Va., she served on the resident staff and Alternative Spring Break, as well as being a member of the Asian Student Union and the Madison House Boosters. Her long-range goal is to teach in public schools.

Sarah Zauner, 20, of Eugene, Ore., a third-year foreign affairs major with an economics minor, is graduating this year. She plans to work at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, and will research on educational policy in both Hong Kong and mainland China. She wants to develop cross-cultural awareness in Hong Kong through activities such as English classes and Model United Nations conferences.

While at U.Va., she belonged to the International Relations Organization and was on the staff of the Wilson Journal of International Affairs, as well as being secretary-general of Virginia Model United Nations and a Spanish tutor.

Davis Peace Prize

Evelyn Hall, a fourth-year human biology major, and Courtney Mallow, a third-year economics and environmental thought and practice double major, will share a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace prize for a project to empower women in Bluefields, Nicaragua, to develop business, health and gender equality training for a women's microcredit institution. 

Hall, 21, of Kalamazoo, Mich., has worked in South Africa, where she researched sexual and domestic violence programs. Hall plans to pursue a medical degree and a master's in public health to be followed by a career in international women's health. A Lawn resident, Hall was co-chair of the Sexual Assault Leadership Council, Pancakes for Parkinson's and Take Back the Night, an intern at the Women's Center and a member of the Survivor Support Team and Sexual Assault Peer Advocacy.

Last year, Eric Harshfield, of Roanoke, and Ana Jemec, of Greer, S.C., both  chemical engineering majors, used a Davis Peace Prize to create a sustainable water purification project for Venda, South Africa.

Harshfield was a member of Engineering Students Without Borders, a student-run global development organization, the Virginia Unitarian Universalist Students and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He also participated in Alternative Spring Break.

Jemec was an intern in the International Studies Office, a language consultant at the Center for American English Language and Culture, a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a Sunday School teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, and has been involved with Habitat for Humanity building projects.

— By Matt Kelly