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American Chemical Society Scholars to study at ASU

March 08, 2011

Only “the most promising and highly motivated students in the nation” are selected to be American Chemical Society (ACS) Scholars, says Jean Andino, an Arizona State University associate professor of chemical engineering.

Three recently named ASC Scholars have chosen to pursue their studies at ASU.

David Gonzalez, Dennis Pittman and Nicolas Acuna are now chemical engineering majors in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Gonzalez, a freshman, graduated from Yuma High School in Yuma, Ariz. He’s the first of his family members to attend college.

Acuna, a freshman, graduated from Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Ariz. He sees a degree in engineering as the best way to combine his interests in math and chemistry.

Pittman, a junior, graduated from Brookwood High School in Snellville, Georgia.  He chose his major, he says, because expertise in chemistry and engineering will offer a wide range of career choices.

Andino is a mentor for ACS scholarship recipients at ASU. She expects the three scholarship winners to be outstanding students at ASU because the ACS “goes through a rigorous process to select students with the highest potential.”

Gonzalez is interested in the role of chemical engineering in water treatment and environmental issues, but he wants to explore more areas.

“I like how many opportunities are available to you with a degree in chemical engineering,” he says. “Right now I don't know the direction I want to go in, but I like that I have many options,” he said. 

He says he hopes to one day use his engineering and chemistry expertise to start his own business.

Acuna is interested in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. “I have always been fascinated with medicine. I really want to understand the whole process of manufacturing medicine, and I want to get a job in the pharmaceutical industry,” he says.

He thinks his strong work ethic helped him win an ACS scholarship. In high school, he says, “I was in football and track, and I still took Advanced Placement classes, and studied for them. I think doing all of that showed I could go to college and succeed.”

Acuna has a brother in his senior year at ASU and another sibling who plans to attend ASU next year, so his ACS scholarship helps ease the financial burden on the family, he says.

The ACS Scholars Program awards up to $5,000 per academic year to each of its scholars and provides them opportunities to participate in undergraduate research, make presentations at professional conferences and perform internships in industry.   

Acuna hopes to also take advantage of ASU’s study abroad opportunities because of an interest in Japan. “I want to see the culture and experience it,” he says.

Pittman says a range of experience helped him in being selected for ACS scholarship.  He had a 3.7 grade point average when he transferred to ASU, he had played Division I college football and worked as a high school teacher, a high school varsity football coach and a tutor. 

Pittman wants to use his education in chemical engineering to pursue battery technology research that’s essential to meeting society’s growing need for energy storage methods.

Beyond research, he says, he would like to start a business in the battery and energy-storage field.

In 2001 the ACS Scholars Program received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

“The fact the that the program earned this honor from the president of the United States is further evidence of its excellence,” Andino says, “and that reflects positively on the students who are selected as ACS scholars.”

Read more about the ACS Scholars Program

Written by Amy Lukau