Two University of Delaware students win Goldwater scholarships
New Goldwater Scholars Marco Bedolla, left, and Aleksey Dvorzhinskiy.
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9:37 a.m., April 17, 2009----Two University of Delaware students -- Aleksey Dvorzhinskiy, a junior biological sciences major, and Marco Bedolla, a junior chemical engineering major in the Honors Program -- have been awarded 2009-10 academic year scholarships by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

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The purpose of the Goldwater Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year.

Dvorzhinskiy, who was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, and emigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was three years old, plans a career in medicine. “I would like to earn both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees so that I can conduct biomedical research at a major institution and integrate my findings in patient care,” he says. His interest in research was piqued at the age of 14, when he began to periodically accompany his father to work at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

“The opportunity to do undergraduate research has been one of the best things about the University of Delaware,” Dvorzhinskiy says. “While I have gained a great deal from my traditional coursework here, I believe the true strength of my academic training comes from the hands-on research experiences that I have had.”

Since his freshman year, Dvorzhinskiy has been working in the laboratory of Diane Herson, associate professor of biological sciences. His research has focused on the resistance of a specific strain of Salmonella to anti-microbial compounds.

“Dr. Herson has been amazingly supportive as an adviser,” he says. “She's always available to answer questions. I know people at Ivy League schools who haven't had the opportunity to do what I'm doing.”

Bedolla, of Newark, Del., has also been conducting research at UD since his freshman year. Originally a chemistry major, he switched to chemical engineering as a sophomore because he saw it as a perfect merging point for his joint interests in chemistry and physics.

For the past two years, he has been working in the laboratory of Mark Barteau, Robert L. Pigford Chair of Chemical Engineering, whose group focuses on determination of reaction mechanisms in surface catalysis by metals and metal oxides. Specifically, Bedolla is exploring the gas-phase epoxidation of propylene.

Barteau's appointment as senior vice provost for research and strategic initiatives in 2008 provided an important personal growth opportunity for Bedolla.

“I have been able to develop as a researcher because of the great independence and wide responsibility that my adviser has expected of me,” Bedolla says. “Because of Dr. Barteau's position as vice provost, I have quickly earned responsibility for designing experiments and carrying them out. This freedom has provided me with a better understanding of my work and my potential as a researcher.”

Bedolla plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. His career goal is to lead a research group in surface chemistry and catalyst design and possibly teach at the university level.

This year's 278 Goldwater Scholars were selected from a field of almost 1,100 students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Of the 21 UD students nominated in the past six years, 15 have been selected.

The 2009 Goldwater Scholars join the 2008 group still on campus: Jeff Bosco, Ritika Samant, and Spencer Tofts.

Article by Diane Kukich
Photo by Ambre Alexander

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