RIT Science Majors Win Prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships




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Three Rochester Institute of Technology science majors have won the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award for students interested in pursuing careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

Sarah Denial from Erie, Pa., Roberta DiLeo from New Castle, Pa., and Ryan Walvoord from Williamson, N.Y., are this year’s Goldwater scholars. Denial and DiLeo are two of 34 scholars from Pennsylvania, and Walvoord is one of 24 from New York.

RIT’s award winners are among the 323 sophomores and juniors who were selected from 1,081 nominees this year. Each will receive a $7,500 scholarship covering tuition, fees, books and room and board, and will join an elite group of young scholars. Previous Goldwater scholars have gone on to win Rhodes Scholarships and Marshall Awards.

Sarah Denial, a junior biochemistry major, has been involved in undergraduate research, working in the laboratory of professor Suzanne O’Handley since her freshman year. Her research involves the discovery and characterization of new enzymes, especially focusing on bacterial enzymes that may be novel antibiotic targets in pathogens such as M. tuberculosis.

Denial’s research has been published in the Biochemical Journal. She presented her work at the national meetings of the American Chemical Society and the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Denial plans to obtain her doctorate in biochemistry or molecular biology and pursue an academic career of research and teaching. She holds a Kate Trahey Scholarship as well as a Nathaniel Rochester Society Scholarship. Denial held a Danial Pasto Undergraduate Research Co-op Fellowship

Roberta DiLeo, a junior physics major, has been involved in undergraduate research since her sophomore year in RIT’s NanoPower Research Laboratories under the direction of professor Ryne Raffaelle. Her research involving the chemical vapor deposition synthesis of carbon nanotubes has been published in the proceedings of the Space Photovoltaic Research and Technology Conference.

DiLeo plans to earn her doctorate in material science and nanotechnology, and pursue a research career either at national laboratory or in industry. DiLeo, a member of the RIT Honors Program, holds an RIT Presidential Scholarship and an I&B Emerson Scholarship.

Ryan Walvoord, a junior chemistry major, has been involved in undergraduate research since his freshman year, carrying out organic synthesis with professor Tina Collison. His research involves the synthesis of natural products, which may have a use as antimicrobial agents or anticancer drugs.

Walvoord’s research has been published in Synthesis. He has presented his work at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, as well as at several local meetings. Walvoord plans to earn his doctorate in organic synthesis and pursue a research career in either industry or academia. Walvoord, an RIT Outstanding Undergraduate Scholar, is in the RIT Honors Program and holds an RIT Presidential Scholarship. He also received a Danial Pasto Undergraduate Research Co-op Fellowship.

Walter Hopkins, a junior physics major, was also an RIT Goldwater nominee. Hopkins has done research with professor Scott Franklin and completed a Research Experience for Undergraduate Program at Fermi National Labs.