RIT Students Win Prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships

Three students among 317 national scholarship winners

Three Rochester Institute of Technology students have been named 2007 Goldwater Scholars. The prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to top undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. The award is based on academic merit, and virtually all winners plan on pursuing a Ph.D.

Juniors Brandy Pappas from Corning, N.Y.; Jessica Smith from Hamlin, N.Y.; and Matthew Woodruff from Clifton Park, N.Y., are among the 317 sophomores and juniors chosen nationally from more than 1,100 nominees. The students will receive a $7,500 scholarship, which covers tuition fees, books and room and board.

Brandy Pappas, a biochemistry major, has been conducting research on the characterization of human eye lens protein alpha crystallin, working in the laboratory of George Thurston, associate professor of physics, since her freshman year. She has presented her research in a number of venues at RIT and the New York Complex Matter Workshop.

Pappas, the current president of the RIT honors council, plans to pursue her Ph.D. in biophysics of biophysical chemistry, then begin an academic career teaching and conducting research on neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Jessica Smith, a biochemistry major, currently works in the synthetic organic research laboratory of Tina Collison, assistant professor of chemistry. Jessica has participated in the National Science Foundation’s undergraduate research program at the University of Rochester, which focuses on proteins vital to the pathogenic infection mechanism in E. coli. As the winner of a GlaxoSmithKline summer research fellowship, Smith will conduct research this summer at RIT.

Smith, who is in the RIT research scholars program, plans to obtain her Ph.D. in biochemistry or bio-organic chemistry and pursue a career at either a research university or a pharmaceutical company.

Matthew Woodruff, a biotechnology major, has been involved in research in the virology laboratory of Maureen Ferran, associate professor of biological sciences, studying interferon gene expression in VSV-infected cells. Additionally, he has conducted research at the New York State department of health and presented his research at RIT symposia and at the Rochester Academy of Science research symposium.

Woodruff, a RIT research scholar, plans to obtain his Ph.D. in immunology and pursue an academic career so he can combine his interest in research and teaching.

Andrew Varble, a junior biotechnology major from Henrietta, N.Y., was also a Goldwater nominee. Varble holds an RIT presidential scholarship and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in virology.


Rochester Institute of Technology is internationally recognized for academic leadership in computing, engineering, imaging technology, and fine and applied arts, in addition to unparalleled support services for students with hearing loss. More than 15,500 full- and part-time students are enrolled in RIT’s 340 career-oriented and professional programs, and its cooperative education program is one of the oldest and largest in the nation.

For nearly two decades, U.S. News & World Report has ranked RIT among the nation’s leading comprehensive universities. The Princeton Review features RIT in its 2007 Best 361 Colleges rankings and named the university one of America’s “Most Wired Campuses.” RIT is also featured in Barron’s Best Buys in Education.


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