Two UGA students share another honor in common: Goldwater Scholarships

Athens, Ga. – Two University of Georgia Honors students who are or have been Midterm Foundation Fellows, Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) apprentices and Presidential Scholars at UGA now share something else in common – they are both 2005-2006 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars.

Melissa Cabinian, a senior from Conyers majoring in environmental health and microbiology, and Caelin Cubeñas, a junior from Louisville, Ky., majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, are two of 320 academically outstanding students from across the country selected to receive the Goldwater Scholarship.

“I am very pleased with Melissa and Caelin’s accomplishment,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “They join an impressive list of UGA students who have shown that they can compete with the very best that America has to offer. The increasing quality of the UGA student body is a source of pride for the entire state.”

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency, and its 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.

UGA students have received 26 Goldwater Scholarships in the last 11 years.

“I’m delighted for Melissa and Caelin because they are superb students and delightful people,” said David Williams, director of the Honors Program. “They are truly the cream of the crop at UGA. I’m also pleased that their success touches all points of our program – Honors, CURO and Foundation Fellows – which I think speaks volumes about the kinds of enriching academic opportunities the Honors Program provides.”

Caelin Cubeñas

Cabinian is conducting research with Rick Tarleton, Distinguished Research Professor in Cellular Biology, at UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. She is studying the mechanisms of immune control in Trypanosoma cruzi infection. Cabinian received the Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology to continue her work in the Tarleton laboratory this summer. She is the undergraduate copresident of the Association for Women in Science as well as a senior peer advisor for the CURO apprenticeship program.

Cabinian said her participation in CURO helped her find her strong interest in research early in her college career. “I never imagined my simple curiosity and passion for research would open so many doors,” said Cabinian. “I am so thankful to all of my amazing research mentors and for the wonderful opportunities that I have received at UGA.”

Cubeñas is researching mechanisms of diseases with the intention of developing medical treatments. She was accepted to the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program at Emory University where she presented her research. At UGA, she has worked in the cellular biology laboratory of Marcus Fechheimer, UGA professor of cellular biology, and as a CURO apprentice for the last two years, and she is also involved with the University Union as well as several volunteer programs.

“I am truly honored to be a recipient of the Goldwater scholarship,” said Cubeñas. “I know that my success is a reflection of the excellent education and mentoring that I have received here at UGA.”

Karl Espelie, professor of entomology, is the UGA faculty advisor for the Goldwater Scholarship. Cabinian and Cubeñas are two of the most outstanding students that UGA has ever nominated for this honor, according to Espelie.

“The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious scholarship given to undergraduate science majors,” he said. “It is clear that both of these young women have the ability to excel in graduate school and, in the future, to have very productive careers in biological research. Both Melissa and Caelin have been Presidential Scholars every semester – and they have both gained an incredible amount of research experience.

“Melissa has been leading a team of undergraduate women who are working with young girls at a local middle school in an effort to encourage the girls to pursue a career in science,” continued Espelie. “When you talk to Caelin about her research, she bubbles over with enthusiasm and excitement.”

The Foundation Fellows Program was established in 1972 by the trustees of the UGA Foundation to foster an enhanced educational experience for academically outstanding undergraduate students. More information on the Foundation Fellows Program can be found at www.uga.edu/honors/fellows. The CURO Apprentice Program creates research partnerships between freshman and sophomore students and faculty research mentors; visit http://www.uga.edu/honors/curo/.

The Goldwater Scholarships were announced by Peggy Goldwater Clay, chair of the board of trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The 2005-2006 academic year scholarships were awarded to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from across the United States. They were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,091 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. 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.

In its 17-year history, the foundation has awarded 4,562 scholarships worth approximately $45 million. For more information, visit http://www.act.org/goldwater/.


Note to editors: Photos of Melissa Cabinian and Caelin Cubeñas are available at http://www.photo.alumni.uga.edu/photohome.htm.