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2 engineering students earn Goldwater Scholarships

April 10, 2007

ASU students' excellence in science and engineering has again been recognized nationally, with two outstanding students having been chosen to receive Goldwater Scholarships. Eric Anderson, a bioengineering sophomore, and Allison Engstrom, a materials science and engineering junior, were selected for the award.

The $7,500 scholarship, which is the nation's highest award for undergraduates who are planning careers in scientific research, is given on academic merit, as well as the extent and sophistication of the student's undergraduate research.

In addition to their stellar academic achievements, the Goldwater scholars also are engaged in research projects to saves lives and improve the environment.

Allison EngstromWith Engstrom's award, this is the second straight year that a student from ASU's new School of Materials (SOM), jointly administered by the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has won a Goldwater.

Lawrence Mickelson, an SOM student who won a Goldwater last year, has since received a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship and has chosen to do graduate studies at ASU, though he was admitted to MIT and the University of Illinois, two of the top-ranked programs in materials science and engineering.

“This is an excellent tradition to have,” says Subhash Mahajan, SOM director. “It seems the School of Materials has arrived. These are superb students who are bringing accolades to ASU and will emerge as leaders.”

ASU is a leader in the Goldwater Scholarships, with 35 students winning the awards over the past 14 years. This year, 317 scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,110 students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

Engstrom, who plans on pursuing a doctorate in materials science and engineering, worked with engineering professor Cody Friesen on promising nanotechnology to improve the efficiency of fuel cells, a “green” technology that can cleanly generate electrical power for homes and cars while producing only water and heat as byproducts.

Engstrom says she grew up with a sense of responsibility for the quality of life and a clean environment. She hails from a family of scientists, with her father a geologist for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, her mother a nurse, and her two sisters studying science and engineering at ASU. She also is a flutist and is president of Material Advantage, the student materials engineering club at ASU.

“Allison strongly believes in the impact that her research will have on society, and she has the self-confidence, independence and creativity to contribute to significant breakthroughs in the future for fuel cells,” says Stephen Krause, SOM professor. “She is a talented researcher and also a role model for the next generation of women considering engineering as a career.

“She has already made contributions to Professor Friesen's research group. With her research skills and abilities, I believe she will have the enviable honor of having her name on one or more journal publications by the time she graduates.”

Eric AndersonAnderson, who plans on pursuing a medical degree and a doctorate, has worked at the Biodesign Institute under professor Jiping He to develop improved drug delivery models. He also was a summer intern at the Translational Genomics Research Institute with Michael Berens, helping to focus on brain research and better understand glioblastoma, the most aggressive and invasive type of brain tumor.

He also has been involved in providing health care for uninsured populations, helping provide mammograms to low-income women, working with patients at a local nonprofit medical clinic and helping plan a health fair for inner-city children.

“Eric proved to be among the most diligent, focused, disciplined and productive interns among the 50 student research interns last summer,” says Berens, senior investigator and a division director at TGen. “He embodies the analytical mindset characteristic of engineers, showing stellar aptitude in mechanistic thinking, robust experimental design to test hypotheses, and in detailed technical execution.”

“Eric is a scientist at heart, and it is clear he enjoys the challenge which science provides,” says Christine Pruis, a chemistry lecturer. “He also displays unimpeachable integrity and is very service-oriented. He is an exceptional young man.”

Another student, Nicholas Tatonetti, received an honorable mention in the Goldwater competition. He is a junior majoring in math and molecular biosciences in the College of Liberar Arts and Sciences.