The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships awarded to students who excel in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering. This year, two MNT-CURN students have been awarded the scholarship: Rachael Orkin from Los Angeles Pierce College and Celina Yu from Pasadena City College (PCC).
Rachael Orkin, a biochemistry major at Pierce (as it is often called), was inspired to pursue the Goldwater Scholarship after learning about it through guest speakers in her MNT-CURN meetings. She decided to apply for the scholarship after Dr. Jared Ashcroft included her in an email about Goldwater mentors who could help her through the process. With a support system that big, Rachael felt it was worth a shot applying for the scholarship.
Rachael has been involved in undergraduate research at Pierce with many opportunities that have validated her choice to pursue pathology and structural biology. She is currently doing research with electronic noses, biomechanic software, and leprosy, with plans to engage in other areas. Rachael is interested in researching how micro- nanotechnologies intersect with medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. She hopes to be a pathologist or clinical geneticist via an MD/PhD path.
Celina Yu, a first-generation college student, was motivated to pursue the Goldwater Scholarship not only for financial reasons but also to push her academic limits. She has been involved in undergraduate research at PCC and wanted to explore what’s out there. Applying for the Goldwater Scholarship was a way for Celina to stay involved and active during her sophomore year of higher education.
Celina recently received her Associates of Arts degree in Natural Sciences at PCC and has decided to concentrate in Biology upon her transfer to a 4-year institution this fall.
Her love for science is what inspired her to pursue her degree. She wants to create or discover new ways to develop medications or push the limits with novel methods to help others thrive. After her first research experience, Celina realized that she much prefers supporting those fighting on the front lines to help patients rather than going into battle herself. She wants to be part of the development team and supply the needed materials to continue to help people.
For the scholarship, Celina focused on her research involving gold nanoparticles and their use in traditional photothermal therapy.
She collaborated with the California State University of Northridge and used a custom-built Femtosecond laser to characterize the experimental samples. The subsequent data was analyzed to study the nanoparticle’s electronic transitions, and the concept of a hybrid particle was introduced to bring forth the idea of an alternative route for cancer treatment.
Both Rachael and Celina had mentors who helped them throughout the application process and research experience.
Rachael would like to thank her campus representative, Dr. Aron Kamajaya, and her application mentors Justice Charnae Robinson and Sophia Barber, as well as her research mentors Dr. Jared Ashcroft, Dr. David Armstrong, and Dr. Brian Pierson.
Celina would like to acknowledge her mentors Dr. Jared Ashcroft, Dr. Jillian Blatti, Dr. Abdelaziz Boulesbaa, Dr. Yadong Yin, and Kristin M. McPeak for being an amazing campus representative and helping with the official paperwork.
The Goldwater Scholarship is a significant achievement for both Rachael and Celina, and it demonstrates their dedication and passion for their fields of study. Their research has the potential to make a significant impact on society, and we wish them all the best as they continue to pursue their academic and research goals.
You can also read more about Pasadena City College Student Janet Teng Awarded Barry Goldwater Scholarship in 2022.
More details on the Barry Goldwater Scholarship here.
Image Detail and Credit:
Credit: Shikuan Yang, Birgitt Boschitsch Stogin and Tak-Sing Wong, The Pennsylvania State University
The featured image is from the NSF multimedia image gallery with research involving gold nanoparticles.
An artistic illustration showing an ultrasensitive detection platform called SLIPSERS — slippery liquid infused porous surface-enhanced Raman scattering. An aqueous or oil droplet containing gold nanoparticles and captured analytes is allowed to evaporate on a slippery substrate, leading to the formation of a highly compact nanoparticle aggregate for surface enhanced Raman scattering detection.
Researchers at Penn State have developed a new technique that combines the ultrasensitivity of surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) with a slippery surface. The technique will make it feasible to detect single molecules from a number of chemical and biological species, whether gaseous, liquid or solid. This combination of slippery surface and laser-based spectroscopy will open new applications in analytical chemistry, molecular diagnostics, environmental monitoring and national security.
The research was funded by a U.S. National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program award (grant CMMI 1351462).