Four Rice University undergraduate students are among the 271 college students across the country who have been named a 2013 Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Charles Adelmann, Kamal Shah, Aaron Sharpe and Ravi Sheth were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of more than 1,100 mathematics, science and engineering sophomore and junior students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.
“The Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious national award for undergraduate students in science and engineering,” said Caroline Quenemoen, director of fellowships and undergraduate research at Rice. “Each institution is allowed only four nominees, so it is quite an honor for Rice to have four winners this year. These outstanding students have excelled as a result of dedicated mentors who have challenged them and provided opportunities to present and publish their research.”
The honorees receive one- or two-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
Adelmann, a sophomore from Los Angeles, is majoring in biochemistry and cell biology. Selected as a Rice Century Scholar and supported by MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention Research Training Program and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas’ undergraduate summer program, he has been conducting research in Dr. Kenneth Tsai’s lab at MD Anderson to develop tools for measuring skin cancer risk and the efficacy of cancer treatment. He said the end goal of both projects is to develop novel personalized medicine assays for treating skin cancers. “Working in translational research, I’m very close to the tangible impact of my discoveries,” Adelmann said. Manuscripts about cancer drugs and the validation of bioinformatics tools that Adelmann are being submitted to scientific journals.
Adelmann is the founding member of the Martel Journal Club. He plans to attend graduate school for a Ph.D. in cancer biology and become an expert in cancer signaling while teaching and heading a lab at a university.
Shah, a sophomore from Jersey City, N.J., is majoring in bioengineering. Under the direction of Rice Bioengineering Professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Shah has been researching a paper-based method to detect HIV viral loads. “This is especially exciting because of the impact it could have in low-resource settings,” he said. Kamal has been heavily involved in designing and enhancing a low-cost, mechanical IV volume regulator for developing countries that could help save the lives of millions of children at risk of dying from dehydration. He presented the design at the 2012 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting and has earned several awards for the project.
Shah is an academic fellow at Will Rice College and he plans to obtain a Ph.D. in bioengineering to pursue a research and teaching career in academia.
Sharpe, a junior from Oklahoma City, is majoring in physics and math. He is currently studying parallel-plate waveguides for terahertz radiation as a member of Rice Professor Daniel Mittleman’s research group in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Sharpe has also worked with Rice Physics Professor Randy Hulet’s research group and conducted physics research at the University of Chicago and at the University of Colorado at Boulder through the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program. This summer Sharpe will study quantum cascade laser wafers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory through Caltech’s SURF program. He is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow, winner of Rice’s Tom Bonner Book Prize for most outstanding sophomore physics student and recipient of the American Physical Society’s Scholarship for Minority Undergraduate Physics Majors.
Sharpe is active in the Rice Native American Student Association and head mentor for the Designing with Rice Engineers program. After receiving his B.S. degree in physics, Sharpe intends to pursue a Ph.D. “I plan to focus on scientific research, either at a university or a research institution,” he said.
Sheth, a sophomore from Cincinnati, is majoring in bioengineering. Selected as a Rice Century Scholar, he conducts research in synthetic biology under the direction of Rice Assistant Professor of Bioengineering Jeff Tabor. “I am working to re-engineer signaling proteins in E. coli to inherently contain logic and allow them to act as a platform for the construction of complex biological circuits and computers with a wide variety of practical applications,” Sheth said. He is also interested in 3-D bioprinting applications in synthetic biology and is constructing hardware and electronics that will be released under an open-source license to the community.
Sheth is the Student Association’s external vice president and Orientation Week coordinator for Martel College. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in synthetic biology and ultimately teach and conduct research as a principal investigator focusing on re-engineering life for practical, diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency that honors the late Barry M. Goldwater, who represented Arizona in the U.S. Senate. The organization’s goal is to help outstanding students pursue research careers in mathematics, science and engineering. Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has awarded more than 6,550 scholarships worth approximately $40 million.