Campus News

Three undergraduate students named 2011 Goldwater Scholars

Victoria Akin, Michael Burel and Amar Mirza, third-year students enrolled in UGA’s Honors Program, have been awarded 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships.

They are among a group of 275 recipients of this national award for undergraduates who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

“I am very pleased that Victoria, Michael and Amar have been recognized as Goldwater Scholars,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “At a time when America is producing far too few graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we are proud that these UGA students are not only studying in those fields, they are excelling.”

Akin, also a UGA Foundation Fellow, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Burel is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cellular biology. Mirza is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology.

UGA students have received this award almost every year since 1995, and this year’s recipients bring the university’s total to 39 Goldwater Scholars.

“I am very pleased for Amar, Michael and Tori on an individual basis,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program and UGA’s faculty representative for the Goldwater Scholarship. “Collectively, they underscore the importance of UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, through which they all have conducted impressive research.”

Akin began her research activities in epidemiology modeling after her freshman year at UGA, working under the guidance of epidemiologist and statistician Andreas Handel in the College of Public Health. She created a computer program that simulates the progression of influenza, gathering data to support more efficient production of antiviral drugs. Since fall, Akin also has been involved in numerical analysis research with mathematics professor Jason Cantarella.

Burel first was introduced to UGA undergraduate research when he was named a CURO Promising Scholar as a high school senior and attended the CURO Symposium in 2008. He went on to become a CURO apprentice during his first two years at UGA, working in the laboratory of Steven Stice, Georgia Research Alliance Scholar in Reproductive Physiology. He has continued his research with Stice and is now a teaching assistant for the CURO apprentice program, offering guidance and support to the new group of apprentices.

Mirza has been working in the biochemistry and molecular biology laboratory of Natarajan Kannan since his freshman year. He also participated in CURO’s summer research fellowship program. His research has focused on various aspects of the structure and function of protein kinases, a family of proteins that has mutated in cancer.