Sheeba Joseph, of Battle Creek, Mich., a second-year biochemistry major at Case Western Reserve University, is among a group of 317 gifted science and mathematics majors who have won a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the 2007-2008 academic year. The awards are given by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.
Joseph was chosen from a field of 1,110 mathematics, science and engineering students, who were nominated by the faculties of their universities. She is among 143 women who plan to pursue advanced degrees.
As a Goldwater recipient, Joseph will receive support to cover the cost of tuition, fee, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500.
Since her high school years at Pennfield High School and the Battle Creek Math and Science Center, Joseph has had a desire to become a doctor and conduct research in the field of oncology.
"The moment"—as Joseph describes the time she realized that this was her calling—came after listening to a description of a cancer patient's medical experience.
She plans a career in medicine where she wants to practice and perform relevant research.
Today Joseph is on the road to that career as a cancer researcher. During her first year at Case, she approached Nancy Oleinick, a professor of radiation oncology at the school of medicine, about working in her lab that is pursuing a new photosensitizing drug for photodynamic therapy (PDT) to hopefully eradicate cancer.
Beginning last summer, Joseph has worked alongside researchers in Olenick's lab who are studying how PDT causes cancer cell death through the processes of apoptosis, necrosis and/or autophagy.
Joseph is concentrating on the process of autophagy to understand if it contributes to cell death or survival through its activities in recycling cell materials. The research focuses on how the potential autophagic enzymes' knockdown in combination with PDT can affect cancer cell death.
In addition to the Goldwater honor, Joseph is a member of Mortar Board and the National Residential Hall Honorary. She came to Case as a National Merit Scholar and was a 2004-05 semifinalist in the Siemens-Westinghouse International Science Competition for her work on extremophilic algae—a project done through Michigan State University.
Outside of the classroom and research laboratory, Joseph participates in the Undergraduate Student Government, Students for Organ Donation Awareness, the Murray Hill Hall Council, the American Medical Students Association and Student Turning Point Society. She also enjoys playing soccer and spending time with family and friends.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by public law in 1986 to honor the late Arizona senator through this premier undergraduate award program that encourages the pursuit of science and engineering. For many award recipients, the Goldwater Scholarship is a step toward other honors such as the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships and distinguished fellowships like the Fulbright.
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