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Two Rutgers Students Win Prestigious Goldwater Scholarships
Biotechnology and physics majors combine overseas research experience with academic merit
Devinn Lambert is a resident of Howell and Kelvin Mei is a resident of Flemington. To arrange interviews with the students, their advisers or Arthur Casciato, director of external fellowships, contact Carl Blesch, 732-932-7084, ext. 616; email@example.com.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The research accomplishments and stellar academic records of two Rutgers students have earned them prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, awarded for excellence in mathematics, science and engineering.
Juniors Devinn Lambert of Howell and Kelvin Mei of Flemington are among 282 undergraduates selected by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to receive awards this year. They were among more than 1,100 students nominated by their college and university faculties nationwide. The scholarships cover educational expenses up to $7,500 per year for each winner’s remaining one or two years of college.
According to the Goldwater Foundation, Goldwater Scholars often garner the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs, such as the Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill scholarships and awards.
Along with outstanding academic performance, the students include international research in their undergraduate experience. Lambert, a biotechnology major in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, worked at the Institute of Medical Biology in Singapore last summer. Mei, a physics major in the School of Arts and Sciences, will work at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland this summer.
Devinn Lambert describes biotechnology as an “awesome major,” filled with laboratory courses. She conducted her first research project during the summer of her freshman year through the Aresty Research Center at Rutgers, genetically modifying a bacterium that she says has potential as a biological pesticide.
“I never expected to like research,” she said. “Coming out of high school, I was convinced I was going to get a B.S. and an MBA and call it a day.” She credits her research mentor, Professor Donald Kobayashi, for instilling a sense of curiosity in her. “He never directly answers my questions – he always pushes me to find my own answers by guiding me with questions.”
Lambert became intrigued by Singapore in a first-year economics class, when she learned that the country was making scientific research a platform of their economy.
“As a young scientist, I thought I could benefit from being involved with an environment that is so heavily dedicated toward advancing the boundaries of science,” she said. In the summer after her sophomore year, she spent 10 weeks in Singapore testing for drugs that promote the division of neural embryonic stem cells. Since then, she has helped other Rutgers students find paid research internships there.
Lambert sees herself pursuing a doctorate in metabolic engineering and focusing on applied research in biotechnology, such as to develop and produce biofuels.
Kelvin Mei will put his research and studies in high energy physics to good use this summer searching for new subatomic particles at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). At Rutgers, he has been writing programs that help analyze data gathered from head-on collisions of protons that fly near the speed of light. He believes his timing couldn’t be better.
“We expect to find new particles this summer because the LHC’s energy level is being increased,” said Mei, who began doing research with his mentor, Prof. Sunil Somalwar, in the middle of his sophomore year.
“He throws you right in to the work and gives you assignments to analyze data,” said Mei. “I like that style. He’s also very approachable – he’s very easy to talk to.”
Mei, who is now completing a study-abroad semester at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, hopes to pursue a doctorate in high energy physics when he graduates from Rutgers.
The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by public law in 1986. The scholarship program honoring the late U.S. Sen. Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. It is regarded as the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.
Rutgers students who are interested in applying for Goldwater scholarships should contact the Office of Distinguished Fellowships for further information and assistance.
Media Contact: Carl Blesch