Three undergraduate students at Case Western Reserve University, who have been actively involved in research along with their academic achievements, have been recognized by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.
Daniel Alt has won the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship to continue his studies in science, mathematics and engineering. Recognized with honorable mentions were Viral Shah and Joshua Hamilton.
"I am very excited and honored to receive this award," said Alt, who hails from Plain City, Ohio. "I am also very grateful to all my teachers, professors and principal investigators who have taught me in class or in the lab to prepare me for a future career in research."
Alt is a biomedical engineering major with a specialization in tissue engineering and minors in chemistry, biology and Spanish.
Working in James Dennis' orthopedics lab at University Hospitals of Cleveland and the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, Alt has been conducting studies on tissue-engineered cartilage. He is testing different adhesives for joining bones with cartilage and is also testing the mechanical properties of both native and engineered cartilage.
This summer, Alt will expand his research experience through a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellowship with Horst von Recum, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the Case School of Engineering. He plans to investigate refillable polymers for drug delivery.
He also honed his research techniques during the summers of 2006 and 2007 at the Center for Cell and Developmental Biology at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus. He was part of the lab that examined the role of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) in hepatic fibrosis. Alt worked on a surgically induced model of fibrosis and compared the response in CTGF transgenic mice with that in normal mice.
Alt is planning a future career as a researcher and surgeon.
"I was thrilled to be nominated by the university for the Goldwater Scholarship," said Hamilton, of Kansas City, Kan. "To have my work acknowledged on the national level fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment."
The third-year chemical engineering major, specializing in biochemical engineering, has set his sights on a research career in the pharmaceutical field. Hamilton is on his way through the undergraduate research opportunities at the university over the past two years in the lab of Vernon Anderson, a professor of biochemistry at the School of Medicine, as well as collaboration with Donald Feke, professor of chemical engineering.
Hamilton's research focuses on the formation of amyloids, insoluble fibrous protein aggregates formed via the aggregation of partially or misfolded amyloid precursor proteins, which are hypothesized to be a major cause of the neuronal cell death that underlies Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases. He has hypothesized a mechanism to account for the aggregation process and has created a computerized simulation or model to account for experimental observations of aggregation. He's also interested in the effect of shear forces and the mechanism by which the shearing effect causes the protein to change shape in such a way as to accelerate the aggregation process.
In addition to his research activities, Hamilton serves as a supplemental instructor leader for "Chemistry of Materials," an introductory course for first-year engineers and will serve the same role for "Organic Chemistry" next year.
As an undergraduate at Case Western Reserve, Viral Shah, of Tinley Park, Ill., is a renaissance student with interests in science, music and Tae Kwon Do. The 1998 Tae Kwon Do World Champion is resident assistant at Carlton Road Complex and founder and president of Education Theatre, a student organization that performs educational demonstrations for students in Cleveland community.
His academic career at the university is his pathway toward a future career in the neurosciences as a medical professional and research scientist.
Since his first year on campus, he has worked as a lab assistant and has been mentored by Stephan Herlitze, assistant professor of neuroscience at the School of Medicine. In Herlitze's lab, Shah is working on a project to understand the changes in the brain that produce Spinocerebellar Ataxia type 6 (SCA6), a neurodegenerative disease similar to Huntington's disease. He has developed transgenic mice that model the disease in order to understand the underlying cause, and the role proteins and small molecules play in reversing or delaying the disease.
Shah also has had research experiences at the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine (2004-06), where he worked on projects pertaining to a disease in the SCA6 family; and the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (2004-06).
"It is quite an honor to be chosen for this award. It has inspired me to contribute my utmost to research on the frontiers of neuroscience with the Goldwater spirit," said Shah.
He is a sophomore, majoring in biology, chemistry and psychology with a minor in artificial intelligence.
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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