University of Vermont

Two UVM Students Named Goldwater Scholars

Christopher Kenseth and Kathleen Bashant
Christopher Kenseth ’15 and Kathleen Bashant ’16

University of Vermont Honors College students Kathleen Bashant ’16 and Christopher Kenseth ’15 have been named 2014 Goldwater Scholars. The Goldwater is a nationally competitive prestigious scholarship that recognizes sophomores and juniors who have done outstanding work in science, technology, math, or engineering (STEM) disciplines and who are on track to become leading researchers and innovators in their fields.

Named for former Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the award is the premier undergraduate award of its type in STEM fields, and UVM can nominate up to four students to participate in the competition each year. Chemistry professor Rory Waterman, UVM’s Goldwater faculty representative, oversees the advising and nomination process for the scholarship.

“Chris and Katie are great examples of students able to couple classroom performance and intensive research. It is a model that has lead increasing numbers of UVM students to success in these national competitions,” said Waterman.      

A Green & Gold Scholar and chemistry major from Montpelier, Vt., Kenseth has distinguished himself as a top undergraduate scientist at UVM. He has received numerous accolades throughout his college career; in 2012 he received the Chemical Rubber Company Award, given to the top freshman chemistry major at UVM. In 2013 he received the Donald C. Gregg Award for Excellence in Organic Chemistry, which is given to the top sophomore in the chemistry department. That year he also received UVM’s Undergraduate Summer Research Award (a highly competitive institutional research grant), and he received the Bogorad Award from Phi Beta Kappa Alpha of Vermont (a top award for outstanding achievement in the liberal arts).

Kenseth has participated in a breadth of research on campus. In 2013 Kenseth, under the guidance of Giuseppe Petrucci, did work on aerosol analysis. His work focused on the physical and chemical characterization of secondary organic aerosols, how they are formed in the atmosphere, and how they affect air quality, climate patterns and human health. That year Kenseth also did concurrent research in organic chemistry, under Matthias Brewer, developing novel synthetic methods for the preparation of complex nitrogen-containing compounds. Currently, Kenseth  is working with Petrucci to investigate the heterogeneous aerosol chemistry of marine aerosols using a novel method of atmospheric aerosol analysis developed in the Petrucci Lab. This work will serve as the subject of his Honors College thesis.

After he graduates from UVM, Kenseth aspires to pursue a doctorate in analytical or organic chemistry and eventually attain a tenured research professorship at a leading university or research institution.

A microbiology major, Bashant came to UVM in the fall of 2012 as a first year student with a passion for understanding Lyme disease and a plethora of research experience. While in high school, Bashant spent her summers studying Lyme disease under Timothy Sellati at the Center for Immunology and Microbial Diseases in Albany, N.Y. At UVM, Bashant is a research assistant for Ralph Budd in the College of Medicine. Her current work contributes to a study examining the interactions of T lymphocytic cells and dendritic cells, which occur in Lyme arthritis. Such work, Bashant says, could have implications for how to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic conditions.

From Ballston, N.Y., Bashant has received numerous recognitions for her research; in 2012 she received fourth place for work in cellular and molecular biology at the International Science and Engineering Fair, and she was also recognized by the Albany Medical Center and the Albany College of Pharmacy as an up-and-coming young scientist. This summer she plans to participate in a University of Utah summer research internship under Janis Weis, one of the most prominent Lyme disease researchers in the country. After she graduates from UVM, Bashant plans to pursue a doctorate in immunology and conduct research on immune responses to infectious diseases, particularly Lyme disease.

Bashant and Kenseth are two of 283 students to receive a Goldwater Scholarship this year. Goldwater Scholars, nominated by colleges and universities nationwide, are selected on the basis of academic merit. The scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $15,000. Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has bestowed more than 6,600 scholarships totaling approximately fifty million dollars.

Over the past five years, five UVM students have received Goldwater Scholarships. In addition to Bashant and Kenseth, Ben Rouleau ’14, a civil engineering major from Barre, Vt., received the award in 2013. Susan Leggett ’13, a biochemistry major from Salem, N.H., received the award in 2012. Isabel Kloumann ’11, a physics and math major from South Burlington, Vt., received the award in 2009.