Two Rutgers Students Win Prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

Two Rutgers Students Win Prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

Biotechnology and physics majors combine overseas research experience with academic merit

BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The research accomplishments and stellar academic
records of two Rutgers students have earned them prestigious Barry M. Goldwater
, awarded for excellence in mathematics, science and engineering.


Barry Goldwater

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


Devinn Lambert

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

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

“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
732-932-7084 x616