Four students nominated to receive prestegious Goldwater Scholarships


K-State takes great pride in the number of students that have won the Truman, Goldwater, Udall, Rhodes and Marshall national scholarships. This year K-State has a chance to increase those numbers with four students nominated for the 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships. Angela Grommet, Sterling Braun, Joshua Ericson and Gage Brummer are nominated for the prestigious scholarship that provides more than $7,500 annually to students in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering.

There could be as many as 300 students this year that will be awarded Goldwater Scholarships, and the winning scholars will be announced at the end of March.

To qualify to be nominated, students must be currently working on a research project. The application process is a very extensive one. Grommet said it includes a two-page research essay and then about four to five other essays elaborating on research experiences and interests in a particular research field.

Grommet, sophomore in chemistry, is working on research for Christer Aakeroy, professor of chemistry,. The research project involves diclofenac, a painkiller used to help relieve rheumatoid arthritis. Grommet is working to produce a drug that creates long-lasting pain relief.

She is a member of Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemical fraternity and has received a Putnam Scholarship and a Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research Award.

“I feel very privileged,” Grommet said. “I really, really feel like this is a kind of representation not only of my success, but also my mentors at K-State. I really feel like this accomplishment shows how well they have led me and guided me.”

Brummer, junior in biochemistry, is researching the causes of keratoconus, an eye disease. Gary Conrad, university distinguished professor of biology, is supervising Brummer’s research. Brummer is trying to make treatment more effective and less harmful to patients by looking at the current treatment of the disease.

Brummer had an internship during the summers of 2009 and 2010 at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine. He also helped John Forrest, professor of medicine at Yale University, teach a course about renal physiology research techniques to doctors at the laboratory.

Braun, sophomore in microbiology, is working with Alexander Beeser, assistant professor of biology, to determine mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis in certain cancers.

Braun said he hopes to determine the gene that drives oncogenesis and liposarcomas.

A member of K-State’s Alpha Chi Sigma professional fraternity, he has received multiple scholarships and awards, including a Johnson Center Cancer Research Award and a K-INBRE Semester Scholarship.

Ericson, junior in mathematics, is researching methods of using mathematics to accurately describe how biological epidemics can spread in rural settings. Pietro Poggi-Corradini, professor of mathematics, is his supervisor.

Ericson said he hopes to find ways to prevent outbreaks by using probability theory and graph theory. He has won multiple scholarships in the mathematics area, including a Friends of Mathematics Scholarship and National SMART Grant.

“I am of course honored to be nominated to represent Kansas State in the Goldwater Scholarship Competition and glad that I can bring some deserved recognition to our university,” Ericson said.

Jim Hohenbary, assistant dean for nationally competitive scholarships, said he feels all four of the nominees were chosen because the committee felt they demonstrated outstanding potential as future mathematicians, scientists and engineers.

“Practically speaking, all four nominees have impressive undergraduate research experience, excellent academic records, great support from their faculty mentors and goals related to earning a Ph.D. and conducting research in the future,” Hohenbary said.