UGA Honors students named 2007 Goldwater Scholars

UGA Honors students named 2007 Goldwater Scholars

Athens, Ga. – Two University of Georgia Honors students have been awarded 2007-2008 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, one of the most prominent national awards for undergraduates pursuing degrees in engineering, mathematics and science. The one- and two-year scholarships fund up to $7,500 per year for tuition, books and other expenses.

UGA’s Goldwater Scholars are Jessica Bryant, a junior cellular biology major from Evans, and Nithya Natrajan, a sophomore genetics and microbiology major from Martinez. They are among 317 recipients selected nationally from a pool of more than 1,000 candidates. UGA has had 32 Goldwater Scholars since 1995 and at least two each year since 2001.

Katharine Owers, an Honors student from Athens, is one of 153 students to receive Goldwater Honorable Mention recognition. The third-year student is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biology.

“It is a point of pride that our students continue to do so well in earning major national honors such as the Goldwater Scholarship,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “On behalf of the university community, I congratulate these young scholars, as well as their faculty mentors.”

“Year after year UGA Honors students are proving that they can compete with the finest students across the country,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. “I am extremely proud of our new Goldwater Scholars. Jessica, Nithya, and Katharine are very deserving of recognition.”

Bryant, a National Merit Scholar, has been working with cellular biology professor Jacek Gaertig since summer 2005. She is investigating the function and dynamics of microtubules, structural components within cells, in a protozoan model organism. Bryant will be participating in New York University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) this summer, conducting neurobiology research. In addition to her science major, Bryant is pursuing a French minor and has studied abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris. She also has volunteered at St. Mary’s Health Care System in Athens and currently plays the clarinet in the University Philharmonia Orchestra.

“I’m glad there is such a scholarship that encourages scientific research among undergraduates,” said Bryant, who would like to pursue a Ph.D. in cellular biology, specializing in neuroscience. “I’d like to give credit to Professor Gaertig and my graduate student mentor, Neeraj Sharma, who have helped me immensely along the way.”

Natrajan, a new Mid-Term Foundation Fellow, participates in the research apprentice program through UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, studying under genetics faculty mentor Mary Bedell. She is examining how a growth factor, Kit ligand, is processed in mammalian cells using a mouse model. Natrajan also is involved in oratory and debate with Demosthenian Literary Society and promoting healthy lifestyle choices for students through Advocating Safe Alternatives for Peers (ASAP).

“I am honored to receive such a prestigious national scholarship,” said Natrajan, who serves on the executive board for UGA’s chapter of the Association of Women in Science. “Research has been a huge part of my life since I came to UGA, and I hope to one day do cancer research. I know that the Goldwater Scholarship will help me reach my dreams.”

Owers, a Presidential Scholar at UGA since her first semester, is investigating the effects of temperature on the immune system of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, in the genetics laboratory of Daniel Promislow. She currently serves as vice president of Circle K International and has been active at the Salvation Army. Owers hopes to pursue a university teaching career in genetics or evolutionary biology.

“I am happy to have received an Honorable Mention,” said Owers, who was salutatorian of her graduating class at Athens Academy. “I think the selection committee could see the value of the work I do, as well as my enthusiasm for it. I am excited to continue research during my last year at UGA.”

“All three of these young women are passionate about their research projects!” said Karl Espelie, UGA’s Goldwater faculty representative and professor of entomology and biological sciences. “In the future, they will excel in graduate school and they have the potential to have incredibly productive careers in biological research.”

For more information on the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, visit www.act.org/goldwater.

For more information on UGA’s Honors Program, visit www.uga.edu/honors.