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University Relations

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March 11, 2009
Contact: Sue Lorenz, University Honors Program, (785) 864-3742.

Four KU students competing for national Goldwater scholarships

LAWRENCE — Four University of Kansas students, all involved in undergraduate research at KU, have been nominated to compete for national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, regarded as the premier undergraduate award to encourage excellence in science, engineering and mathematics.

KU’s 2009 nominees are:

— Brandon DeKosky, Overland Park, chemical engineering
— Rebecca Marie Getman, Chesterfield, Mo., chemistry
— Christopher Blake Martin, Manhattan, physics and mathematics
— Richard Z. Robinson, Garnett, mathematics

Two of the nominees, Martin and Robinson, have worked with physicists and mathematicians on research related to the Large Hadron Collider; DeKosky is working with chemical engineers seeking clues to regeneration of tissue; and Getman works with researchers on the development of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS.

Goldwater scholarships provide up to $7,500 for tuition, fees, books and room and board. Winners will be announced in late March or early April. Winners who will graduate in 2010 receive one year of support; those graduating in 2011 receive two years of support. Three of the KU nominees will graduate in 2010: DeKosky, Getman and Robinson. Martin expects to graduate in 2011.

A total of 45 KU students have been selected for Goldwater scholarships since they were first awarded in 1989. Congress established the program in 1986 to pay tribute to the retired U.S. senator from Arizona and to ensure a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

Goldwater scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious postgraduate fellowship programs, including 70 Rhodes scholarships, 94 Marshall scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

Only students who plan to graduate in 2010 or 2011 and who were judged to have outstanding academic records, significant research experience and high potential for a research career in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering were eligible for nomination by their universities. Nominees submitted applications that included an essay related to the nominee’s career and faculty recommendations.

Biographical information about KU’s nominees:

From Garnett 66032
Richard Z. Robinson plans to teach mathematics at a university and conduct research in harmonic analysis and partial differential equations. Robinson was one of the first recipients of KU’s Perfect Achievement Scholarship offered to graduating high school seniors earning a perfect score on their college entrance exams. He also is a National Merit Scholar. Since 2007, he has worked as a student researcher with math professors Estela Gavosto and Rudolfo Torres on projects funded by the National Science Foundation. In his first project with Gavosto and Torres, Robinson traveled to the Fermilab near Chicago in summer 2007 to perform data analysis for the particle detector known as the Compact Muon Solenoid, which is part of the Large Hadron Collider. Robinson worked with an NSF-funded team led by Alice Bean, KU professor of physics and astronomy. He designed software to monitor the status of the silicon strip detectors that form a major part of the larger detector. Robinson reported the results of his analysis to a national meeting of physicists and is co-author of an internal paper on monitoring silicon strip detectors. Since summer 2008, he has been working with Gavosto and Torres, who have an NSF grant to develop a mathematical tool to study ordered geometries using Fourier analysis. Robinson is working to create novel graphic representations of four-dimensional nonperiodic tilings and their Fourier transforms. He also received an undergraduate research grant for summer 2008 to support his research of nonperiodic tilings. He is the son of Richard and Jerry Lou Robinson. His memberships include the KU Experimental Balloon Society, the Math Club and the Society of Physics Students. He is a graduate of Anderson County High School, Garnett, and attended Neosho Community College.

From Overland Park 66213
Brandon DeKosky plans a career in biomedical engineering as a researcher and university teacher. Since May 2008, DeKosky has been a member of an interdisciplinary team researching tissue engineering led by co-investigators Michael Detamore, assistant professor, and Stevin Gehrke, professor, both in chemical and petroleum engineering. For spring 2009, DeKosky received a Kansas IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence undergraduate scholarship to continue a tissue engineering project. He is drafting an article for publication based on his work. Following his freshman year, DeKosky worked in the neurobiology lab of Doug Wright, associate professor of anatomy and cell biology. DeKosky is a National Merit Scholar. He is one of four students to receive a Self Engineering Leadership Fellow Mentor Scholarship at KU. DeKosky has studied abroad through KU’s program with the University of Costa Rica. At KU, he performs with students from Paraguay in a cumbia band called Los Tigres del Sur. His professional memberships include the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, where he is captain of the KU chemical engineering car team. He is the son of Deborah DeKosky and Robert DeKosky and is a graduate of Blue Valley Northwest High School.

From Manhattan 66502
Christopher Blake Martin is interested in teaching and high energy or particle physics. Martin was one of five U.S. students selected in summer 2008 to participate in work on the Compact Muon Solenoid detector, a component of the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. The specific project was funded by the National Science Foundation and enabled the five U.S. students to work alongside scientists from around the world at the Paul Scherrer Institut near Zurich. Martin studied the charge collection efficiency of irradiated silicon detectors. In fall 2008, Martin continued to work on the project while taking classes at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, a technical and scientific research university. He worked on analysis of cosmic ray data to calibrate the Compact Muon Solenoid detector. The results of the research contributions made by the students were included in results reported to the international conference on Radiation Effects on Semiconductor Materials Detectors and Devices in Florence last fall. This spring, Martin is continuing research related to the Compact Muon Solenoid detector with an undergraduate research grant from KU. Alice Bean, professor of physics and astronomy and principal investigator for the NSF funded project, supervises Martin’s research. As a high school senior, he began working in high energy physics labs at Kansas State University where he constructed, tested and operated small muon detectors. He is the son of Randal and Susan Martin and is a graduate of Manhattan High School.

From Chesterfield 63017
Rebecca Marie Getman is planning a research career in the pharmaceutical industry to focus on the development of drugs to improve the quality of life. For the past two years, Getman has worked in the lab of Helena Malinakova, associate professor of chemistry, on an independent project to develop a synthetic pathway to synthesize drugs that may be active against HIV/AIDS. She entered KU with a Chancellors Club Scholarship, one of 16 awarded to top incoming freshmen, and as National Merit Scholar. Last spring, Getman received an Emerging Scholar Award from Phi Kappa Phi honor society, in addition to other KU scholarships. She is also a member of five more honor societies: Golden Key for academic achievement, Sigma Alpha Lambda for community service, Phi Beta Delta for international scholarly achievement, Beta Chi Pi for science achievement and Mu Alpha Theta for math achievement. Getman volunteers with Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Lawrence and serves a conversation partner for the International Friends group on campus. She is captain of an intramural flag football team at KU. She is the daughter of Kathleen and Daniel Getman and is a graduate of Parkway Central High School.


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