Geology and international affairs double major Chris Kelly ’13 (Boyertown, Pa.) and chemistry major Emily Defnet ’13 (Pottstown, Pa.) have achieved national distinction as recipients of Goldwater Scholarships. Awarded for academic merit, the Goldwater is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. Each student’s award will cover college costs up to a maximum of $7,500 next academic year.
Kelly also received a student fellowship at the prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass. Last summer, Kelly worked as an EXCEL Scholar with Kira Lawrence, assistant professor of geology, on southwest Pacific climate evolution from the late Miocene period to the present. Kelly prepared and analyzed samples of marine algae preserved in ocean mud to reconstruct past ocean temperatures and predict future ocean temperatures.
“The vibrancy of his intellectual curiosity is rare. He is very bright, very curious, and incredibly enthusiastic,” says Lawrence.
This semester, Kelly is studying environmental conservation and wildlife management in Namibia. Last year, he studied the evolution of life and land in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands during a three-week January interim course taught by geology professors Lawrence Malinconico and David Sunderlin and Provost Wendy Hill. He also studied German language and culture in Bonn, Germany, for six weeks in a program hosted by Margarete Lamb-Fafflelberger, professor of foreign languages and literatures.
Kelly, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in earth science with an emphasis on paleoclimatology, is a member of Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection, Sustainability Committee, TREEhouse special interest group, Project Kaleidoscope, and Outdoors Club.
Defnet has worked with Steve Mylon, associate professor of chemistry and acting chair of policy studies, on EXCEL Scholars research for the last two summers. She is collaborating with Mylon and James Ferri, associate professor and head of chemical and biomolecular engineering, to investigate the solution chemistry of stimulus-responsive functionalized gold nanoparticles. She is using a technique called time-resolved dynamic light scattering to measure the aggregation kinetics of these particles under certain conditions.
The nanoparticles are coated with a polymer that can, under specific conditions, switch between exhibiting hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-fearing) properties. These materials have a wide variety of applications, especially in the medical field, including drug delivery and MRI. Defnet recently presented a poster on the research at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in San Diego.
“The opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate has given me valuable experiences that will help me with my goal of earning a Ph.D.,” says Defnet, a general chemistry supplemental instructor and tutor. “As a junior, I have already been able to conduct research and present at a national conference, which are experiences that probably wouldn’t have been possible if I had attended a larger institution.”
Defnet traveled to Kenya and Tanzania for the January interim course Sub-Saharan Africa: Kenya and Tanzania taught by Rexford Ahene, professor of economics and chair of Africana studies, and Kofi Opoku, visiting professor of religious studies. Last year, she spent 10 days in the rural community of Arutam in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador through Lafayette’s chapter of Alternative School Break. Defnet is vice president of the Music Appreciation Floor, plays flute for Concert Band, and is a member of Arts Society and Newman Association.
Established by Congress in 1986, the scholarship program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. This year 282 scholarships were awarded for the 2012-13 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. The recipients were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.
See a list of recent Lafayette recipients of national and international scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and post-graduate study. For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, associate dean of the College, (610) 330-5521.