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Four students Win Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

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Penn State students Joshua Albert, Tiffany Bogich, Tina Lin and Christopher Urban each have won prestigious Goldwater Scholarships for 2005. The national scholarship was established to encourage more students to pursue degrees and careers in mathematics, the sciences and engineering, as there has been a noticeable decline in these innovative fields. Albert, Bogich, Lin and Urban have dedicated their studies at Penn State to just this ideal. Each student has excelled in their chosen fields of physics, mathematics, ecology and biology.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was founded by Congress to encourage educational pursuits in engineering, the sciences and mathematics. Goldwater served the United States as both soldier and senator, while maintaining a strong legacy of courage, leadership and vision for a greater United States. The Goldwater Scholarship helps to preserve Goldwater's dream of improving the nation by funding scholarships for exceptional students to pursue careers that will contribute to advancements in the sciences, engineering and mathematics.

Taking advantage of the many renowned laboratories here on campus, the award winners already have contributed greatly to fields of research correlating with their degrees. Their dedication to their studies, exemplary grades and unique research experiences have earned them the recognition and praise from the Goldwater Foundation and the Penn State community.

Albert, a junior physics major and Schreyer Honors College Scholar, realized an interest in the sciences at a very young age, when he saw a map of the solar system and immediately wanted to know more. Now, when he's not busy with the Mathematics Club, Astronomy Club and Penn State's Monty Python Society, Albert concentrates on cold matter physics with Professor David Weiss. Weiss has guided Albert in his research on Bose-Einstein condensation, specifically constructing a magnetic coil capable of maintaining sensitive conditions. Albert has encountered many engineering problems while building this magnetic coil, as it must be extremely accurate in order to study the movement of Bose atoms that have been cooled. Along with Weiss's group, Albert hopes to observe how particles in one-dimensional and two-dimensional systems behave through the observations made available with this project. This research has strengthened Albert's resolve to teach and mentor at the university level, while continuing intense research in fundamental physics.

Bogich, a junior mathematics (B.S.)/ecology (M.S.) major and Schreyer Honors College Scholar, realized a connection between mathematics and ecology while taking a course entitled "Ecological and Environmental Problem Solving" with Professor Katriona Shea. Now, she works alongside Shea as an honors and master's research student. Blending her training in mathematics with the knowledge acquired in ecology, Bogich is utilizing mathematical modeling to optimize the management and monitoring of the gypsy moth. Bogich's course of study represents the ideals of the Goldwater Foundation as she has dedicated her time to providing real answers to problems in ecology through research and mathematical applications. With her acceptance of the Goldwater Scholarship, Bogich now hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology, and eventually teach and conduct research at the university level on the use of quantitative methods in behavioral ecology.

Lin, a second-year physics/mathematics double major and Schreyer Honors College Scholar, was very excited to hear that she had won the Goldwater Scholarship, as she was competing with students who were older and — as she believed — had more experience. Lin has contributed greatly to Penn State's research and academic community, working as a peer tutor in mathematics at the University Learning Center and as a member of the Society of Physics. Even as a second-year student, Lin impressed the Goldwater Foundation with her experiences studying gravitational waves in Professor Lee Samuel Finn's laboratory, manipulating computer simulations and analyzing data retrieved from these observations. Next year, Lin will continue her research with Finn as she enjoys the benefits of Penn State's growing research community.

Urban, a junior biology major and Schreyer Honors College Scholar, has already been involved with many different research opportunities that have strengthened his interests in the field of neuroscience. During the past two summers, Urban has combined his interests in genetics and biology with internships at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. This unique opportunity has allowed Urban to observe and learn more about the neurological basis of many movement disorders and brain diseases. During the academic year, Urban contributes to the Penn State community serving as backpacking leader of the Outing Club and president of the Astronomy Club. Urban was attractive to the Goldwater Foundation in that his research and career goals focus on improvements in research that may lead to dynamic breakthroughs for many patients suffering from neurological disorders. When asked why he was drawn to neurosciences, Urban said, "I find this field fascinating because the mechanisms underlying many of these diseases are poorly understood and future scientific breakthroughs could improve the lives of many affected patients." Urban plans to pursue research in neurosurgery.

With their acceptance of this scholarship, these students will receive approximately $7,500 to assist with their financial needs to complete their undergraduate degrees. The Goldwater Scholarship is renowned as an innovative scholarship that stands out as a significant qualifier for each student and their research experiences. As Albert noted, "The Goldwater Scholarship is an amazing stepping stone. Based on the integrity of this foundation, I will be more qualified for other scholarships and opportunities."

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