College of Science students win Goldwater Scholarships

Summer Saraf

Two students in the College of Science have won the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. Fourth-year students Sebastian Ramirez and Summer Saraf will receive $7,500 for their senior year at RIT.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering. The award is based on academic merit. This year, 278 sophomores and juniors were selected from 1,111 nominees.

Ramirez, a biochemistry major, has conducted research with Suzanne O’Handley, associate professor in the department of chemistry. His research focuses on the cloning, purification and structural determination, via X-ray crystallography, of enzymes from the HAD superfamily. Ramirez has presented his work at the RIT Undergraduate Research Symposium and at an American Chemical Society National Meeting in Washington, D.C. He has also conducted biophysics research in the laboratory of George Thurston, associate professor of physics.

Ramirez holds an RIT Presidential Scholarship, a Nathaniel Rochester Society Scholarship, a Randall Andrews Scholarship and Frederick Douglass Scholarship. He has won a summer fellowship from the American Society for Microbiology and a travel award from the American Chemical Society.

He is in the RIT McNair Scholars Program and the RIT Honors Program, and he is an RIT Chemistry Research Scholar. Ramirez is also a member of the RIT American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology student affiliate and, with this group, has volunteered at the Rochester Museum and Science Center during National Chemistry Week and at a Rochester elementary school through the American Chemical Society Rochester Section’s Adopt a School Program. He plans to earn his doctorate in biochemistry or a related discipline with a focus on macromolecular NMR or X-ray structure determination and to pursue a career in academia.

Saraf, a physics major, has conducted research with Scott Franklin, associate professor of physics. Her research on the physics of granular materials in a wedge hopper resulted in presentations at March meetings of the American Physical Society, at a meeting of the Division of Fluid Dynamics, at the New York Complex Matter Workshop, several presentations at RIT, as well as a manuscript.

The research Saraf is also working on in Thurston’s lab uses light scattering to study interactions of two of the eye lens proteins associated with the molecular origins of cataract disease, the alpha and gamma crystallin proteins. Saraf plans to earn a doctoral degree in physics or biophysics and enter a career in academia.

Saraf holds an RIT Presidential Scholarship and an Honor’s Program Scholarship, a Bruce and Nancy Bates Scholarship, a Whitman Family Scholarship and a Fred Emerson Foundation Scholarship. She has also received RIT College of Science Dean’s Grants for Summer Research in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Saraf is secretary of the RIT Society of Physics Students and has served as an RIT Honors Program Peer Mentor and Orientation Mentor.


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