An Outstanding Honor: Three Duquesne Students Selected for Goldwater Scholarships

In a remarkable development, three Duquesne undergraduates have been named winners of prestigious Goldwater Scholarship Awards for the 2014-2015 academic year.

In a national competition, the scholars are selected from students in the fields of science, engineering and math based upon their impressive academic qualifications and intentions to pursue doctoral degrees. Only 283 students of the 1,166 applicants were chosen for the scholarship awards up to $7,500 a year.

Of the scholars selected, Duquesne was among the 17 percent of institutions with three or more awardees.

“In selecting three of our nominees,” noted Dr. Timothy Austin, provost and vice president for academic affairs, “the Goldwater Foundation Trustees implicitly recognized both the high standard set by Duquesne in the area of science education and the extraordinary credentials of our incoming students.”

Duquesne’s Goldwater Scholars, based in the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, their mentors and their aspirations are:

  • Ben Jagger, mentored by Dr. Ralph Wheeler, chair of the chemistry department, who seeks to obtain a doctorate in chemistry, focusing on computational chemistry, and to pursue an academic/research career
  • Sarah Kochanek, mentored by Dr. Jeffrey Evanseck, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who wants to enter the pharmaceutical industry after earning a doctorate in physical chemistry, specializing in theory and computation and obtaining a postdoctoral fellowship in medicinal chemistry
  • Claire Nicole Saunders, mentored by Dr. Simonetta Frittelli, chair of the physics department, and Dr. Stacey Levine, associate professor of mathematics in the McAnulty College of Liberal Arts, who intends to earn a doctorate in computational material physics and conduct research at a government laboratory or in the private sector.

Independent research is the centerpiece of a Goldwater application, explained Dr. Kathleen Glenister Roberts, who heads Duquesne’s Office for National Fellowships. “The selection committee looks for highly advanced, rigorous, complex projects over which the student researcher has a high degree of self-direction,” Roberts said. All of the Duquesne honorees have been involved in research activities since their freshman year.

While these selections certainly recognize the individual awardees’ abilities and persistence, they also speak to Duquesne’s development of potential leaders. “Ben, Sarah and Claire join biochemistry alumna Sara Katrancha (2013-2014 Goldwater Scholar) as the first Goldwater Scholars in creating an exciting and expanding tradition at Duquesne,” said Wheeler. “Their selection is a tribute not only to their exceptional talent and hard work but also to the dedicated teaching and mentoring our students receive from the faculty of the Bayer School.”