From a highly competitive field of top collegiate applicants, Samuel Schneider ’13 was selected as a 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar while Alexa Hill ’14 earned an Honorable Mention.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship is among the nation’s top undergraduate science scholarships. It was established in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who devoted 56 years to his country as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. Many Goldwater Scholars go on to garner the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 78 Rhodes Scholarships, 108 Marshall Awards, 98 Churchill Scholarships, and numerous other distinguished fellowships.
Schneider, a chemistry major with a biology minor who is currently studying abroad in Copenhagen, was one of only 283 scholars to to be named a Goldwater Scholar and receive funds to cover his undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board. These funds will help him to focus on his goals after HWS – pursuing a Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry and leading and conducting pharmaceutical and biochemical research at a top-tier research facility or university.
While at HWS, Schneider has distinguished himself through the variety of internship placements and research he has completed. Schneider discovered his interest in chemistry while shadowing Neurologist Dr. Rup Tandan at a local disease clinic for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, where he realized the important role that science plays in healthcare.
“Over the course of several months, it became apparent that these horrific diseases would not be treated by doctors in clinics, but rather would require the continued efforts and dedication of scientific researchers to confront and combat them,” explains Schneider. “It motivated me to explore a career in chemistry and pharmaceutical development that would have a lasting effect on treating these traumatic diseases.”
Schneider also conducted research at the University of Vermont with Associate Professor of Chemistry Matthias Brewer, who was focusing on the synthesis of several anti-tumor compounds. While at UVM, he made a significant contribution towards determining the methodology and diversity of medium-sized cyclic 2-alkynones as precursors and intermediates. As a result of this 12-week, research position, he co-authored an article in the American Chemical Society’s journal Organic Letters.
After returning to campus, he joined Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kristin Slade in her new biochemistry lab, where he studied the concept of macromolecular crowding through replication of crowding conditions found within various organelles, in particular the mitochondria.
“I think the strength of Sam’s candidacy for the Goldwater Scholarship arose from the combination of his academic excellence and the breadth of his research experiences,” says Slade, who also acted as Schneider’s adviser for the competition. “He is a very well-rounded candidate.”
In addition to his laboratory and research work, Schneider serves as a Chemistry Teaching Fellow and volunteers for America Counts and at the Geneva Boys and Girls Club.
Hill, a chemistry major, is one of only 187 Honorable Mentions. She plans to attend graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. before going on to become an organic chemistry professor at an undergraduate university.
After her first-year at William Smith, Hill participated in the 2011 Summer Research program with Professor of Chemistry Walter Bowyer, who acted as her adviser for the Goldwater competition.
“Every student who applies for the Goldwater scholarship is very smart, highly motivated, and broadly accomplished, but I think one thing that sets Alexa apart is her infectious enthusiasm for science and intellectual pursuits,” says Bowyer. “Alexa worked in the summer after her first year with me and three other students on a project that is being funded by the National Science Foundation. We are measuring rates of a reaction called Indium Mediated Allylation, which is particularly important because it can be done in water while the reaction that it promises to replace requires hazardous chemical solvents.”
Even though Hill was the youngest member of her research team, she took a leadership position in helping to design and present her group’s findings during Parents Weekend and to the HWS Board of Trustees. She has already been published as a co-author in the Journal of Physical Chemistry – one of the most distinguished peer-reviewed journals in the field. Furthermore, in March 2012, she presented her research at Pittcon, the largest international conference for analytical chemists. She plans to return this year as a summer scholar to again conduct research on campus.
Outside of the classroom, Hill plays volleyball and piano, serves as a resident assistant in Miller House and is a Chemistry Teaching Fellow. She is also the co-creator and co-captain of a Relay for Life team.
Since 1999, 10 HWS students have been named Barry M. Goldwater Scholars or Honorable Mention recipients in the Goldwater Scholarship competition.