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Three at Illinois win Goldwater Scholarships

4/12/2010 | Phil Cicioria, News Editor | 217-333-2177;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Three University of Illinois students have won prestigious Barry M. Goldwater scholarships for the 2010-2011 academic year. Kimberly M. Parker, of Westmont, Ill.; Maxie Dion Schmidt of St. Louis; and Kamil Bartlomiej Stelmach, of Lombard, Ill., will receive scholarships to help them finish their undergraduate studies at Illinois before attending graduate school.

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 2010-2011 were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,111 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.

Parker, a junior majoring in civil engineering, has been active in laboratory research on campus, and has worked on clean water projects in Guatemala and on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Her career goals include studying for a doctorate in environmental engineering and conducting research to develop systems to degrade pharmaceuticals present in water.

Parker is also the recipient of the Udall Scholarship, a national scholarship established by Congress in 1992 to recognize students with a demonstrated commitment to environmental issues. Parker was selected as one of 80 Udall Scholars from among 537 nominees. Each scholarship provides up to $5,000 for the scholar’s junior or senior year of undergraduate study.
Parker is the second successful nominee from the Urbana campus and the first since 2001.

Schmidt, a sophomore majoring in computer science, plans to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics or computer science. She is currently conducting independent research related to prime numbers and enumerative combinatorics.

Stelmach, a junior majoring in integrative biology, chemistry and astronomy, intends to pursue a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology or geochemistry, and conduct research in geobiology, geochemistry and evolution. This past summer, Stelmach worked at the NASA Ames Research Center on photosynthetic microbial mats and optimizing mRNA extraction.

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.

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