Two Undergrads Honored As Promising Researchers
Goldwater Scholarship Program Awards Prize and an Honorable Mention
Apr. 28, 2011
Philip Campbell began conducting research at UT Dallas the summer after high school graduation almost two years ago, and he hasn’t let up since.
He has spent much of his time working on microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, in a materials science laboratory, but last summer he completed a fellowship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and this summer he’ll be continuing his MEMS investigations with researchers in Paris.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program has taken notice, awarding Campbell a Goldwater Scholarship, one of just 275 given to a field of 1,095 top students nominated by faculty at universities nationwide.
The program also gave an honorable mention to another UT Dallas nominee, Truc Do. Campbell and Do are both sophomores and members of the University’s 2009 class of Eugene McDermott Scholars.
“Philip is simply outstanding, exhibiting the essential qualities for a great scientific career: deep interest in problem-solving, absolute dedication, creativity and hard work,” said Dr. Yves Chabal, head of the University’s Materials Science and Engineering Department. “Based on his interest in MEMS, I presented him with a funded project focusing on understanding an important processing step in MEMS fabrication. He was able to make a substantial contribution to the project and essentially took it over in collaboration with another student under the supervision of a research associate.”
Truc Do, meantime, has been an undergraduate student researcher in Dr. Dennis Miller’s molecular biology/genetics lab for almost two years, working on DNA expression. In June she’ll start her second summer internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and after earning her bachelor’s in biochemistry she plans to work on a PhD in molecular genetics and eventually enter science policy work.
Campbell is an electrical engineering major, and he plans to next pursue a master’s and PhD in materials science and engineering, with an emphasis on nanoelectronics.
“Afterward, I plan to become a professor so that I have the opportunity to carry out research in this field as well as to help educate future generations of scientists and engineers,” he said. “One of my Goldwater essays focused on how working as a professor is a commitment to public service.”
Undergraduate research at UT Dallas is bustling. The Green Fellowship Program for undergrads nearly doubled last year to 17 students who dedicated a full semester to doing research in labs at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and the Office of Research has funded nearly 175 undergraduate research projects in the past four years (out of more than 300 applications). In addition, five UT Dallas students have now received Goldwater Scholarships since 2005.
“Every year that goes by, we’re seeing more and more cutting-edge undergraduate research take place here,” said Dr. Douglas Dow, coordinator of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships and associate director of the University’s Collegium V honors program. “And the Goldwater Scholarships are particularly significant because they represent the federal government putting a gold star on the nation’s most promising research scholars early in their academic careers.”
Schools are allowed to nominate four students a year for Goldwater Scholarships, but this year UT Dallas had to pare that down from seven highly qualified students through a rigorous selection process, Dow added.
Designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering, the Goldwater program describes its scholarship as “the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.” It’s also a good harbinger of future success: More than 75 recent Goldwater scholars have gone on to win Rhodes Scholarships for postgraduate study.
Philip Campbell will continue his study of microelectromechanical systems this summer with researchers in Paris.
About the Goldwater Program
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was authorized by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater.
The program was created to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.
To be considered, a student must be nominated by his or her college or university. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 annually.
Nationally Competitive Scholarships
The Goldwater is among several well-known competitively awarded national and international scholarships that UT Dallas students have won. In recent years, undergraduate students have received the following*:
David L. Boren Fellowship
Sarah Islam (2005)
Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Fellowship Program
Alex Palmer (2010)
Samia Hossain (2010)
Rachel Markowitz (2008)
Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship
Philip Campbell (2011)
Mary Gurak (2009)
Kassandra McLean (2005)
Alex Palmer (2009)
Austin Swafford (2008)
Sophie Rutenbar (2006)
National Institutes of Health / Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Award
Austin Swafford (2009)
Leonard M. Reiser Fellowship
Chris Affolter (2006)
State Department/Council of American Oversees Research Centers Critical Language Scholarship
Samia Hossain (2009)
Dina Sharokhi (2009)
Molly Wurzer (2008)
Harry S. Truman Scholarship
Sophie Rutenbar (2005)
Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation Scholarship
Saskia Versteeg (2011)
*Source: Office of Undergraduate Education