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Chemistry student receives Goldwater Scholarship

- April 7, 2008

Joseph Fournier, a sophomore majoring in chemistry who also plans to minor in physics and math, has been named a 2008 Goldwater Scholar.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship competition is a highly prestigious, merit-based national scholarship open to sophomores or juniors who aspire to Ph.D.s in the sciences, math, or engineering.

In the 2008 competition, 321 scholarships were awarded from a field of 1,035.

Fournier began his collegiate research career the summer before his freshman year in the lab of chemistry professor Challa Kumar, where he synthesized inorganic microspheres for possible use in medicine delivery.

His experience was arranged through Mentor Connection, a UConn program for talented high school students.

In spring 2007, he joined chemistry professor Robert Bohn’s microwave spectroscopy group to research long-range, non-bonded attractions.

An Eagle Scout, Fournier has been active in community service, having volunteered more than 900 hours during the past five years.

In his application, Fournier writes, “I am motivated by a desire to one day understand the inner workings of atoms and molecules and to apply this knowledge towards finding causes and cures for disease, creating efficient and clean energy sources, and developing new, advanced materials.”

Each year, the University of Connecticut may nominate up to four applicants to compete for Goldwater Scholarships on the national level.

This year the Office of National Scholarships and an interdisciplinary faculty committee nominated three candidates, all of whom were recognized.

All three are students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The others are:

Sonali Shah, a junior with a double major in molecular and cell biology and nutritional sciences and a minor in chemistry, was named a 2008 Goldwater Honorable Mention.

Shah has an extensive research background, including work at the GE labs, where she contributed data for the patent of the company’s DNA amplification kit.

After she graduates from UConn in 2009, she plans to enter an MD/Ph.D. program to research diabetes in hopes of finding clinical applications for new treatments and perhaps even a cure.

Also a 2008 Goldwater Honorable Mention, Michael Abramczyk is a sophomore with a double major in physics and philosophy. Abramczyk studies lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD) with physics professor Tom Blum, and plans eventually to obtain his Ph.D. exploring physics on both the macro and microscopic levels.

He was recently awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fund grant with Greg Petropoulos for their project, “The Calculation of the Neutron Electric Dipole Moment in QCD.”

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