Elis earn Goldwater honors

Long days spent in the lab are paying dividends for two Yale juniors whose work in the sciences was rewarded with the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship on Monday.

Sameer Gupta ’10 and James Luccarelli ’10 are among 300 college sophomores and juniors nationwide who beat out a field of about 1,100 to win the award, which provides up to $7,500 annually for at most two years of undergraduate education. Two Yale students, Aaron Bray ’10 and Michele Trickey ’10, received honorable mentions for the award.

“The Goldwater Scholars represent a very select group of students who have demonstrated superior scholarship and the potential to make significant contributions in their respective fields,” said Linda De Laurentis, fellowship director of Yale’s Office of International Education and Fellowship Programs.

The Goldwater is one of the most prestigious academic awards for undergraduates planning to pursue research careers in science, mathematics and engineering, De Laurentis said. Each sponsoring institution may nominate up to four undergraduates for the award, who undergo a rigorous application and interview process to win the backing of their school. This year, De Laurentis said, the University was especially pleased that all four nominated students received some form of recognition.

The Goldwater selection panel bases decisions not only on academic excellence, the scholarship’s Web site explains, but also on an applicant’s desire to enter the fields of science and mathematics upon graduation.

Gupta, a biology major, researches the CYP-450 gene, which explains variations in patterns of drug metabolism in humans. Gupta hopes to earn a joint M.D./Ph.D. in molecular genetics. He said he felt “honored” and “blown away” by the news.

Luccarelli, who is pursuing a joint bachelor’s/master’s degree in chemistry, said he was “very honored” to be counted among the select group of students to receive the scholarship. Luccarelli said he hopes to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D. in pharmacology upon graduation in order to some day work as a researcher in the pharmaceuticals industry. Last summer, Luccarelli worked in the lab of chemistry professor William Jorgenson, where Luccarelli used computer models to research drug-binding within cell processes. Luccarelli is also a member of the Yale Debate Association.

Bray, an astronomy and physics double major, spent last summer researching dark-matter dominant dwarf galaxies under the supervision of Marla Greha, an assistant professor of astronomy.

Trickey, a physics major, investigated rainfall patterns in Ecuador last summer and hopes to pursue a doctorate in either earth or atmospheric science. She said she was surprised by her honorable mention.

“I didn’t expect to make it this far into the selection process,” she said. “This is fantastic.”

The U.S. Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 1986 in order to foster and encourage excellence in science and mathematics. Last year, three Yale students were awarded the scholarship.

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