University of Vermont Goldwater Scholarship Award Winners:
Ben Rouleau '14, Goldwater Scholar
Honors College student and civil engineering major Ben Rouleau '14 has been awarded a 2013 Goldwater Scholarship. He is one of 271 students nationwide who has received this highly competitive and prestigious award.
At UVM, Rouleau has been heavily involved in research on transportation planning and understanding better ways of incorporating non-motorized transportation into established infrastructure. Since his first year at UVM, he has been a research assistant in UVM’s Vermont Transportation Research Center. He has contributed to work being done on several projects related to pedestrian and cycling traffic in Chittenden County, and he has also performed analysis work on traffic flow patterns in intersections and roundabouts. In 2012 he received the Reginald Milbank Award from UVM’s College of Engineering and Mathematics.
Currently, Rouleau is interning at Local Motion, a Burlington non-profit dedicated to promoting cycling, walking, and other forms of people-powered transportation. At Local Motion, Rouleau is mapping proposed bike and pedestrian trails in Chittenden County. Next fall, he is also planning to pursue an honors thesis analyzing environmental factors that influence pedestrian, cycling and other non-motorized traffic in rural Vermont.
A Green & Gold Scholar from Barre Vt., Rouleau aspires to pursue a doctorate in civil engineering and conduct research on safety, efficiency and sustainability of transportation planning.
Susan Leggett ’13, Goldwater Scholar
Susan Leggett ’13 was named a 2012 Goldwater Scholar. A biochemistry major, Susan has been conducting research on lung fibrosis in the Department of Pathology at the 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 builds on her previous research experiences; she’s been 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 is 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 has been 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. After she graduates from UVM she plans to pursue an M.D/PhD. Ultimately, she hopes to conduct research in a clinical immunodiagnostic research laboratory and teach at a medical university.
David Bernstein '13, Goldwater Honorable Mention
David Bernstein ’13 was given Honorable Mention acknowledgement in the 2012 Goldwater Scholarship competition. David has been conducting research with Dr. Jason Bates in the Vermont Lung Center since 2010, where he is currently designing a fuzzy logic algorithmic system, which can be used to monitor patients in intensive care who have acute respiratory distress syndrome. David and Dr. Binh Nguyen are currently testing the system, and plan to present their work at the American Thoracic Society conference later this spring.
David is also an outstanding student; he is a Mechanical Engineering major, a Vermont Scholar and has been inducted into Tau Beta Pi. He’s also been the recipient of a URECA grant.
Originally from Huntington, Vermont, David is an outstanding Nordic skier and avid outdoorsman. After he graduates from UVM he plans to pursue a PhD. in biomedical engineering and 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, Kanita has been an outstanding researcher in multiple labs in UVM’s chemistry department since her freshman year. She has 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.
Kanita 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.
Kanita is originally from South Burlington, Vermont. After she graduates from UVM she plans to continue her studies in an M.D./PhD. program in Cell and Molecular Biology. After her studies she plans to become a biomedical researcher in an academic setting, as well as teach at a university hospital.
Isabel Kloumann '11
Isabel Mette Kloumann, a junior UVM Honors College student from South Burlington, Vermont, has been named a Goldwater Scholar for the 2009-10 academic year. The Goldwater Scholarship program is designed to foster and encourage outstanding students in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering, with up to $7,500 per year for education expenses to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in these fields. Isabel is one of 278 students selected for the award, from among 1097 highly qualified students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities across the country. Majoring in Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in Spanish, Isabel will use her Goldwater to continue work on a project begun under Professor Joanna Rankin, an astrophysicist in the UVM Physics Department, whose research on pulsars Isabel is continuing 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
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 '08
Laura Balzer, a senior 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 May 14 2013 01:19 PM