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Two at Illinois win Goldwater Scholarships; third gets honorable mention

4/15/2009 | Sharita Forrest, News Editor 217-244-1072; slforres@illinois.edu

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Two University of Illinois students have won prestigious Barry M. Goldwater scholarships for the 2009-2010 academic year, and a third student at Illinois received honorable mention. Anthony Mazzotti, of Taylorville, Ill., and Derek Vardon, of Bolingbrook, Ill., will receive scholarships to help them finish their undergraduate studies at Illinois before attending graduate school.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, established by Congress in 1986, honors Sen. Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. He died in 1998.

The program aims to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to sophomores and juniors from the U.S. who intend to pursue careers in those fields.

Competition for the scholarships is highly competitive. The 278 Goldwater Scholars for 2009-2010 were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,097 students who were nominated by faculty members. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

A junior majoring in chemistry, Mazzotti plans to study organic chemistry in graduate school, is interested in pursuing medical and doctoral degrees and has long-term goals that include developing new chemical methodologies to synthesize and derivitize molecules for potential medical applications.

Mazzotti is working with M. Christina White, a professor in the organic chemistry department, on developing a Palladium-mediated allylic amination reaction.

Vardon, a junior majoring in civil and environmental engineering, plans to pursue research in biological methods for pollution mitigation and renewable energy. He served six years in the U.S. Navy working in the nuclear power field before college, and recently finished work with Mark Clark, a professor emeritus in civil and environmental engineering, investigating remote detection methods for algal blooms and how blooms foul water-treatment membranes. This summer, Vardon will work with Lance Schideman, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, studying the mass cultivation of algae for biodiesel production and carbon dioxide sequestration.

James Polans, of Dekalb, Ill., received an honorable mention. Polans is a junior majoring in electrical engineering and bioengineering who plans to study the interdisciplinary fields of nanotechnology and biomedical solutions in graduate school.

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