Three UD students awarded 2008-09 Goldwater Scholarships
Ritika Samant
11:06 a.m., April 25, 2008--Three University of Delaware students--Ritika Samant, a junior biological sciences major and political science minor from Hockessin, Del.; Spencer Tofts, a junior mathematics major from Newark, Del.; and Jeffrey Bosco, a junior chemical engineering major with minors in chemistry, mathematics and Japanese language, from Wilmington, Del.--have been awarded 2008-09 academic year scholarships by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

The scholarship program, honoring the late U.S. Sen. Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields, covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to $7,500 per year.

Samant, who is studying proteins interacting with junctional adhesion molecule-B to better understand the loss of tight junction formation in cancer cells and the subsequent metastasis of cancer, said the scholarship is an honor that speaks volumes about the opportunities the University provides for meaningful undergraduate research. Her adviser is Ulhas Naik, professor of biological Sciences and professor of chemical engineering.

“The University and the Department of Biological Sciences are outstanding in their devotion to providing valuable experiences for undergraduate researchers,” said Samant, who enjoys dancing as a member of Delaware Kamaal, an on-campus competitive Indian fusion dance team. “This scholarship has strengthened my goal of pursuing an M.D./Ph.D in order to further study disease mechanisms from a molecular viewpoint and will certainly help me in achieving it.”

Jeffrey Bosco
Bosco plans to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering. His career goal is to lead a research laboratory in the field of applied catalysis at either a national research institute or university. He is planning to research novel methods of catalyst synthesis for fuel-cell applications at the University of Hokkaido in Sapporo, Japan, in the summer. His UD adviser is Jingguang Chen, Claire D. LeClaire Professor of Chemical Engineering and professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

“I owe much of my ability to win the Goldwater scholarship to my research adviser, Prof. Chen, who has been fundamental in my success as a researcher and has provided many excellent opportunities during the last three years of my academic career,” said Bosco, who enjoys playing pool and practicing bass guitar.

Tofts plans to earn a doctorate in mathematics, conduct research in topics in pure mathematics and teach at the university level. He is currently working on number theory research on a variation of the Erdos-Heilbronn conjecture. His adviser is Qing Xiang, professor of mathematical sciences.

“I owe this prestigious scholarship in part to the professors who wrote my letters of recommendation and certainly to Prof. Xiang for helping me with my research. I owe the scholarship and my gifts in mathematics and other fields to God,” said Tofts, who is 13 and enjoys reading and playing video games, soccer, baseball and football. He started playing the piano eight years ago.

Spencer Tofts

This year's Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,035 mathematics, science and engineering students who are nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Of the 239 institutions nationwide that have 2008-09 Goldwater Scholarship recipients, UD is one of just 39 schools to have three or more students named Goldwater Scholars.

Goldwater Scholars' impressive academic qualifications have garnered the attention of prestigious postgraduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 70 Rhodes Scholarships (six of the 32 awarded in the United States in 2006), 94 Marshall Awards (eight of the 40 awarded in the United States in 2008) and many other distinguished fellowships.

Article by Martin Mbugua
Photos by Kevin Quinlan and Tyler Jacobson