Daniel Pasto received a B.S. in chemistry from RIT in 1958 and went on to earn a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. A well-known physical organic chemist and author of several textbooks, he was a professor at the University of Notre Dame. He died in 1999, leaving $100,000 to RIT's chemistry department.
"Our faculty decided that we should use Dr. Pasto's endowed fund to create an award for undergraduate students interested in conducting research," said Assistant Professor Massoud Miri, who chaired the award committee. The student researcher receives $2,500, and spends one quarter working full-time on a selected project.
The fellowship provides an unusual opportunity for an undergraduate, who normally would not have this kind of intense, hands-on learning experience. Leiston, a fourth-year polymer chemistry major from Spencerport, is working with Professor Andreas Langner.
Leiston credits her Churchville-Chili chemistry teacher, John Prouty, with fostering an interest in the subject. She's a member of Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemistry fraternity and received the chemistry department?s physical chemistry and polymer chemistry awards.
She's already logged many hours in the lab: Leiston has done research work with RIT Professor Marvin Illingsworth since her freshman year and, last summer, she worked at the University of Akron conducting research with a faculty member there.
After graduation in May, Leiston plans to go on to graduate school and, ultimately, to become a professor of chemistry/polymer science.
"I'm not looking to win a Nobel prize," she said, "I'm just looking to educate and fuel others? interest in chemistry." Internationally recognized as a leader in imaging, technology, fine and applied arts, and education of the deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology enrolls 14,000 students in more than 250 undergraduate and graduate programs. Its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.
For the past decade, U.S. News and World Report has ranked RIT as one of the nation's leading comprehensive universities. RIT also is included in Yahoo! Internet Life's Top 100 Wired Universities, Fisk's Guide to America's Best Colleges, as well as Barron's Best Buys in Education.