University of Vermont Goldwater Scholarship Award Winners:
David Bernstein '13 (Honorable Mention)
Kanita Chaudhry '13 (Honorable Mention)
Kathleen Bashant '16, Goldwater Scholar, Christopher Kenseth '15, Goldwater Scholar
A Green & Gold Scholar and chemistry major from Montpelier, Vt., Christopher Kenseth '15 distinguished himself as a top undergraduate scientist at UVM. He 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 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. Kenseth now works with Petrucci to investigate the heterogeneous aerosol chemistry of marine aerosols using a novel method of atmospheric aerosol analysis developed in the Petrucci Lab.
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, Kathleen Bashant '16 came to UVM 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 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. In 2014 she participated in a University of Utah summer research internship under Dr. 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.
Ben Rouleau '14, Goldwater Scholar
At UVM, Ben Rouleau '14 was heavily involved in research on transportation planning and understanding better ways of incorporating non-motorized transportation into established infrastructure. At UVM, he was a research assistant in UVM’s Vermont Transportation Research Center, and he has contributed to work being done on several projects related to pedestrian and cycling traffic in Chittenden County. He has also performed analysis work on traffic flow patterns in intersections and roundabouts. While at UVM Rouleau also interned at Local Motion, a Burlington non-profit dedicated to promoting cycling, walking, and other forms of people-powered transportation. At Local Motion, Rouleau mapped proposed bike and pedestrian trails in Chittenden County. He also completed an honors thesis analyzing environmental factors that influence pedestrian, cycling and other non-motorized traffic in rural Vermont. In 2012 he received the Reginald Milbank Award from UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematics.
A Green & Gold Scholar from Barre Vt., Rouleau now works as an engineer for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Susan Leggett ’13, Goldwater Scholar
A biochemistry major, Susan Leggett '13 conducted research on lung fibrosis in the Department of Pathology at UVM's College of Medicine with Dr. Yvonne Janssen-Heininger. She also co-authored a publication in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology. This work built on her previous research experiences; she was actively involved in research with Dr. Dwight Matthews and Dr. Chris Landry in the Chemistry department. Her strong research background aligns with her interest in medicine; she was also a part of UVM’s highly competitive premedical enhancement program, and she is a regular volunteer at Fletcher Allen Hospital.
In addition to her work in the lab, Susan was consistently recognized as an outstanding student at UVM. In 2010 she received the Chemical Rubber Company award, which acknowledges outstanding students in UVM’s chemistry classes. She has also received the Lewis Scholarship and has been on the Dean’s List throughout her academic career.
Susan is originally from Salem, New Hampshire. She is currently pursuing a PhD. in pathobiology at Brown University.
David Bernstein '13, Goldwater Honorable Mention
David Bernstein ’13 received Honorable Mention acknowledgement in the 2012 Goldwater Scholarship competition. At UVM Bernstein conducted research with Dr. Jason Bates in the Vermont Lung Center, where he designed a fuzzy logic algorithmic system, which can be used to monitor patients in intensive care who have acute respiratory distress syndrome. At UVM Bernstein was a Mechanical Engineering major, a Vermont Scholar and was inducted into Tau Beta Pi. He was also the recipient of a URECA grant.
Originally from Huntington, Vermont, Bernstein is an outstanding Nordic skier and avid outdoorsman. He is currently working on his PhD. in biomedical engineering at Boston University. Ultimately he aspires to start a biotechnology firm where he wants to work on projects that improve healthcare outcomes and quality of life for patients.
Kanita Chaudhry '13, Goldwater Honorable Mention
Kanita Chaudhry ’13 was given Honorable Mention acknowledgement in the 2012 Goldwater Scholarship competition. A biochemistry major, Chaudhry was an outstanding researcher in multiple labs in UVM’s chemistry department since her freshman year. She conducted research with Dr. Dwight Matthews and Dr. Cedric Wesley, and has pursued independent projects with both mentors (she plans to publish the results of one of her projects with Dr. Wesley as a PLoS ONE publication). In addition to her work at UVM, she spent the summer of 2011 working on molecular biology and gene therapy as an intern in the lab of Dr. Kevin Foskett at the University of Pennsylvania.
Chaudhry has received multiple awards for her achievements in the classroom as well as the laboratory. She’s the recipient of a Vermont NASA Space Grant Consortium Scholarship, she received the UVM Mortar Board Sophomore award in 2011, and she has received the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award from UVM’s ALANA Student Center. She’s also been the recipient of two UVM undergraduate student research grants: the URECA grant as well as the mini grant. Kanita also participates in UVM’s Premedical Enhancement Program and is a talented flutist.
Chaudhry is originally from South Burlington, Vermont. Currently she is a post baccalaureate research fellow at the National Institutes of Health.
Isabel Kloumann '11
Kloumann graduated from UVM in 2011 and is currently pursuing a PhD. in applied mathematics at Cornell University. The following is an article written about Kloumann when she received the Goldwater in 2009.
A physics and math major, Isabel Kloumann conducted extensive research on complex systems and social networks while at UVM. Under Professor Joanna Rankin, an astrophysicist in the UVM Physics Department, whose research on pulsars Isabel with her own set of research questions evolved while serving as Professor Rankin's research associate during her sophomore year.
In her Goldwater project, entitled "Complex Electromagnetic Systems: Neutron Star Radio Frequency Emission," Isabel says that she will be studying with Professor Rankin "the emission phenomena of certain pulsars, and interpreting these phenomena to establish whether or not they are in accordance with neutron star theory." "Pulsars," she explains, "are small city-sized stars that rotate once per second, swinging around their misaligned magnetic pole, from which they emit coherent radio frequencies." For her research, she has been investigating a particular pulsar, B1944+17, for those who would like to look for themselves, she jokes. She herself has had the chance to observe her pulsar up close. After receiving an APLE award from the University, which supports student research done under the mentorship of a faculty member, she traveled to Puerto Rico last summer with Professor Rankin. There she was able to examine her pulsar through the Arecibo Observatory (AO) telescope, one of the most powerful in the world. "I feel fortunate," she says, "to have had the opportunity to...learn to operate the telescope to observe the pulsar and learn how such an incredible instrument works from both an engineering and scientific perspective."
Given that the available computer software to properly analyze her star is limited, Isabel has written and edited several computer programs which have allowed her not only to analyze her star, but to thoroughly document its complex behavior. She has presented her research at the summer 2008 Workshop on 'Low Frequency Pulsar Science' at the Leiden University Lorentz Center in the Netherlands, and will be submitting her findings for publication to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Isabel sees herself as a big picture person when it comes to pulsar theory. And like other big picture theorists, she argues that because of the unpredictability of pulsar behavior, researchers must pay attention to the rich variety of observed phenomena by pinning down the behavior of particular and unique stars, such as the one she is analyzing. One gets a strong impression that Isabel knows what she is talking about. "As a young physicist entering the field of research," she says, "I see that a principle point of concern for my generation's physicists and mathematicians will be to look beyond idealized theoretical systems to the understanding of real world complexity."
It is this 'real world complexity' that has pointed her in the direction of a second research project she will be working on this coming year. She has joined with Professors Chris Danforth and Peter Dodds in UVM's Mathematics and Statistics department to look at a different kind of phenomenon than that in her Goldwater project. Not surprisingly, however, this new venture is one that presents her with perhaps some of the same cosmological intrigue as pulsars. She along with her two mentors have designed a research project where they will be looking at large scale social networks, and specifically at the way emotional contagion spreads through a particular social network, namely, twitter.com. She says, "It is kind of a fun project, and what I like about it is that it is brand new. Chris and Peter haven't been working at it for long so it is great to come in on the ground floor."
"It is well known," she says, "that emotions spread quite easily. If one person smiles at another person, that second person is also likely to smile." Moreover, she says, there is recent research showing "that a person's emotional well being, specifically happiness, can spread beyond direct social connections up to three degrees of separation." But as with the difficulties of mapping radio emissions from pulsars, tracing these chains of emotion through an on line social network like twitter.com will require more than just observing whether someone is smiling or not, particularly when the emotion is contained in short bursts of words on a computer or cell phone screen in frequent 'tweets' between friends, family, co-workers, and others. Hence, she says, the project will make use of large digital data sets collected from weblogs (blogs) and online journals and involve the use of statistical complex systems analysis techniques to study the emotional contagions flowing through them." Making use of the high speed computational capabilities of the Vermont Advanced Computing Center (VACC), Isabel and her mentors will be able to analyze their data to answer the particular questions central to their research.
Isabel expects that the social network research will serve as the foundation for her Honors thesis in Physics and Mathematics next year. For her Goldwater award, Isabel credits Professor Kelvin Chu of the Physics department for mentoring her through the application process. For the past year she has served as his teaching assistant in his Introductory Physics course. In addition to her Goldwater, Isabel has also received a Next Generation Scholar award in 2007, the Academic Programs for Learning and Engagement (APLE) award in 2008, and this year, the Undergraduate Research Endeavors Competitive Award (URECA) which she will use in both her research projects. From 2007, Isabel has worked at the Howard Center for Human Services in Burlington where she has provided respite care for autistic women. Her outside interests are wide ranging. She enjoys Nordic and alpine skiing, biking, sailing, gardening, and animals. After she graduates, Isabel says she plans to go to graduate school, but where yet she doesn't know.
Dan Koenemann '09
The following is an article written about Koenemann when he received the Goldwater in 2008.
To the legions of chefs and food connoisseurs who admire the curled fronds of the fiddlehead fern, add University of Vermont sophomore biology major Dan Koenemann. Koenemann's admiration isn't exactly culinary, though. As part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded project designed to measure the genetic resiliency of the fiddlehead - as more and more of the plants are picked by food lovers - Koenemann conducted a special kind of DNA analysis on the fern variety called AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism).
The research, combined with an essay he wrote about the significance of a larger project his work contributed to, his 4.0 average and three glowing letters of recommendation won Koenemann a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship in the spring of 2008, awarded to the country's top college science and math students.
While others enthusiastically heap on the compliments - plant biology professor Dave Barrington describes him as "brilliant, passionate and possessed of remarkable self-discipline" - Koenemann, naturally modest, would prefer to focus on the environment that helped him succeed.
Three years ago, UVM's Honors College launched a university-wide outreach effort to encourage students to compete for national and international awards and to support and mentor them during the application process.
"They definitely got the word out," Koenemann said. Once he expressed interest, Koenemann was assigned a supportive faculty mentor who spent months helping him hone his application.
Laura Balzer '08Balzer graduated from UVM in 2008 and is currently pursuing a PhD. in biostatistics at the University of California-Berkeley. The following is an article written about Balzer when she received the Goldwater in 2007.
Laura Balzer, a junior Honors College student from California, has been named a 2007 Goldwater Scholar. Laura is majoring in applied mathematics, with minors in chemistry and statistics, and, as she says, a sprinkling of Spanish. One of 300 students selected from 1500 highly qualified nominees throughout the US for the award, Laura joins an even more select group of 28 mathematics scholars chosen this year. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship addresses current and future shortages of highly qualified mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, by supporting the education of outstanding individuals with up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering.
In the summer of 2006, Laura spent five weeks volunteering in a service-learning program in Guayaquil, Ecuador, working mainly with children, where she experienced first hand the devastating effects of poverty upon the health of the children in her care. Her awareness of "how fragile life is" changed her career plans. Previously considering becoming a doctor, she decided to combine her love for mathematics with her passion for helping people. With the guidance of Dr. Daniel Bentil, an associate professor of Mathematics in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Laura recognized how mathematics could be used to solve health care problems.
Currently, she is working with Dr. Bentil on creating mathematical models and computer programs to simulate biochemical processes reflected in certain real world situations. At UVM, Laura is active in both campus and community life. She is a member of Tae-Kwon Do Club, and the only math major in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She has spearheaded the formation of Pi Mu Epsilon, a national math honor society, and is a member of the Honors College Leadership Council. This year, Laura will write her senior thesis with Dr. Bentil on the mathematical modeling of blood coagulation. After graduation, Laura plans to pursue a Ph. D in mathematical biology.
Last modified July 17 2014 12:26 PM