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UConn Junior Tyler Daddio Named 2017 Goldwater Scholar

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Tyler Daddio ’18 (ENG, CLAS), from Beacon Falls, Conn., has been named a 2017 Goldwater Scholar.  The Goldwater Scholarship is considered the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering. It was established by Congress to honor the late U.S. Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, for the purpose of identifying students of outstanding ability and promise, and encouraging them to pursue advanced study and research careers.

Daddio, pictured above, is a STEM scholar pursuing a BS in mathematics and dual BSE/MS degrees in computer science and engineering. He plans to earn a Ph.D. in computer science after he graduates from UConn.  He is joined by fellow UConn students Vincent Pistritto ’18 (CLAS, SFA) and Nick Russo ’18 (CLAS), who each received Honorable Mention in this year’s competition.  With this award, Tyler becomes the sixth UConn undergraduate to earn a Goldwater Scholarship since 2014.

Meet UConn’s 2017 Udall Scholarship Nominee

Each year, on behalf of the University of Connecticut, the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships nominates students to compete nationally for the prestigious Udall Scholarship.  Named for Representative Morris K. Udall and his brother, Secretary Stewart L. Udall, this $5,000 undergraduate scholarship is awarded to high-achieving students from any discipline who are either passionate about the environment or  are Native American students committed to tribal healthcare or tribal policy, following legacy of the Udalls, who supported legislation to protect both the environment and Native American interests.  Recipients are also invited into a strong network of committed environmentalists and Native American advocates.  If you are a UConn student and want more information about the scholarship and how to seek nomination, start here.

 

Nicholas Russo (CLAS ’18) is an Honors Student and STEM scholar majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology, with a focus on ornithology and forest community ecology. Since his freshman year, Nick has been working in the lab of Dr. Morgan Tingley, conducting research on the potential for birds to disperse hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect that devastates eastern hemlock forests. Nick received an IDEA Grant in summer 2016 to monitor adelgid carrying rates of birds in hemlock forests, and presented this research, and his Holster Scholar research, at the national Wilson Ornithological Society meeting in March, 2017, where he received the Nancy Klamm Best Undergraduate Student Oral Paper Award. In November 2016, the results of his Holster Scholar research on adelgid transfer rates between hemlock branches and birds were published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Entomology.  As president of the UConn Birding Club and a representative of ECOalition, Nick takes a strong interest in citizen science and environmental awareness. As part of these organizations, he is working to implement a university general education requirement in environmental literacy and sustainability, and undertake a Connecticut Ornithological Society-funded project to ensure continued management of the Mansfield Community Garden for migratory birds. A University Scholar for 2017-18, Nick received the Stewart L. and Morris K. Udall Scholarship in 2016, and received Honorable Mention for this award in 2017. Nick works at the Writing Center, and in his spare time, he likes to bird, run, swim, and speak French.

Meet UConn’s 2017 Portz Scholarship Nominee

The National Collegiate Honors Council’s John and Edythe Portz Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship provides students in good standing in honors programs of NCHC member institutions support to conduct creative and innovative research that crosses boundaries. The fellowship program invites applications from individuals who wish to undertake cross-disciplinary research or from a team of two students from different disciplines who propose a single collaborative project. The project will be funded for a period of up to 18 months with the expectation that upon its completion the Fellowship recipient will make a presentation of the research at the annual NCHC conference.  UConn’s NCHC Portz Nominee is chosen each spring from the pool of University Scholars.

 

Rebecca Hill (’18 CLAS) is a junior Honors student and University Scholar from Middlebury, CT.  She is double majoring in English and Economics and she aspires to be a novelist.  A former Holster Scholar, Rebecca currently serves as the co-Fiction Editor of the Long River Review, UConn’s award-winning literary magazine. Her University Scholar project, The Western Madwoman:  A Feminist History and Economic Study in Novel Form, conducted under the direction of English Professor Ellen Litman, combines her diverse scholarly and intellectual interests into a novel that examines two feminine literary archetypes of mental illness, anorexia and hysteria, and the socio-economic contexts in which they exist. In the spring of 2016, Rebecca won the Jennie Hackman Memorial Prize for Fiction, which is awarded each year by the UConn English Department. Outside of her literary interests, Rebecca’s commitment to social justice has led her to participate in a wide range of community outreach alternative service breaks in locations ranging from Birmingham, AL to New York City.  In recognition of these and other efforts, she will be representing the Honors Program at the NEW Leadership New England program at St. Anselm’s College in Vermont this summer.  When she is not busy writing or trying to change the world, she enjoys rock climbing.

Meet UConn’s 2017 Truman Scholarship Nominees

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is awarded for graduate study towards careers in public service to approximately 55 students nationally based on their academic achievement, leadership, and public service records. Students must apply in their junior year.  Each year, universities may nominate up to four juniors for this competition.  For more information about UConn’s nomination process and the scholarship itself, click HERE.  Nominees are selected for their strong academic records, demonstrated commitment to public service and exceptional leadership skills.   Also vital is the support of faculty mentors and professionals in their chosen fields.  This year’s nominees submitted their applications to the national competition in February.  Congratulations to these outstanding students on their nominations!

Elizabeth Charash (’18 CLAS) is a history major at UConn. She is an avid reader, consumer of political satire and tea connoisseur. She is from Newtown, CT, where she was involved with gun violence prevention advocacy following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary her junior year in high school. She has studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa where she worked with community members in an area with high levels of gun violence. Her time in Cape Town in combination with her high school activism have shaped the research she is currently conducting on the differences in urban and suburban gun violence prevention policy and activism. Elizabeth has interned in the offices of Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty and Senator Chris Murphy. She is also founder and president of UConn Against Gun Violence, where she seeks to inform her community about the complexities of gun violence.  Winner of the 2016 Newman Civic Fellowship, Elizabeth is also the recipient of an IDEA grant to continue her ongoing research on “Faces of the Gun Violence Prevention Movement in Connecticut” with Sociology Professor Mary Bernstein.  Upon graduation, she plans to continue to address the inequities presented by gun violence with a JD and masters or Ph.D continuing her current research.

Rebecca Kaufman (CLAS ’18), from Mansfield, CT, is an honors student double majoring in political science and human rights who aspires one day to lead legal efforts on behalf of the victims of environmental injustice.  An avid runner, Rebecca has interned for U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, worked with local leaders in rural Guatemala through the Social Entrepreneurship Corps, and studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa where she interned at the Economic Justice Network. As a spring 2016 IDEA Grant recipient, Rebecca used her funding to analyze the policy outcomes and increased female empowerment promulgated by women in local government in the Asia-Pacific region. In spring 2017, she was awarded the Augusta H. Gerberich Scholarship, which is given annually to a junior or senior majoring in political science whose special field of interest is international relations.  She is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received an Alan R. Bennett Research Assistantship in fall 2014.  In the spring of 2016, Rebecca and three other students co-founded the Student Coalition for Social Justice, which conducts sustained, intersectional social justice campaigns in order to incite positive social change on the UConn campus and beyond.

 

2017 Goldwater Nominees

Each year, universities may nominate up to four sophomores or juniors to compete in the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship Competition.  For more information about UConn’s nomination process and the scholarship itself, click HERE.  This year’s nominees include one sophomore and three juniors from a variety of STEM disciplines.  Each satisfied the Goldwater’s criteria of academic excellence, demonstrate research experience and potential, and the desire to earn a PhD in their field.  Also vital is the strong support of their faculty mentors. Nominees will have until January 27, 2017 to complete the national application.  Results will be posted at or around April 1, 2017.

Tyler Daddio (ENG ‘18, CLAS ‘18) from Beacon Falls, CT, is a STEM scholar pursuing a B.S. in mathematics and dual B.S.E./M.S. degrees in computer science and engineering. He is planning on earning a Ph.D. in computer science following his graduation from UConn. Tyler first began working with Dr. Ion Mandoiu of the Computer Science and Engineering Department in the final months of his senior year of high school during which he aided in writing XML wrappers to port various bioinformatics tools traditionally used on the command line to a graphical web interface. Ever since, Tyler’s research has primarily focused on computational methods for improving cancer vaccine design, notably through the characterization of the T cell receptor repertoire. As a Holster Scholar, he spent his first summer at UConn developing an algorithmic approach to elucidate T cell receptor αβ pairs from pooled DNA sequencing data. Tyler has since expanded the scope of this project with the aim of creating a three-stage bioinformatics pipeline to aid in the selection of cancer neoepitopes for use in the design of personalized cancer vaccines. He was recently selected as a 2017 University Scholar and plans to complete the development of this pipeline before his graduation. Tyler has also received an IDEA grant to continue producing educational computer science videos on his YouTube channel, CoderTheTyler. He finds great joy in teaching others and, in his first two years at university, has served as an undergraduate teaching assistant both for undergraduate and graduate computer science courses. He is also serving as a Peer Research Ambassador through which he hopes to inspire other undergraduates to get involved in research. Tyler is the treasurer both for the UConn Student Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and for Street Performers Club (for which he is also a co-founder and head unicycle enthusiast). He is also serving as the student organizer for the UConn ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition (ICPC) team. When he can find time to procrastinate, he does so by working on any one of his numerous yet somewhat secretive side projects.

Alyssa Matz (CLAS ’19) from Cheshire, CT, is an honors student majoring in molecular and cellular biology, minoring in chemistry, with plans to achieve a Ph.D. after graduation. She aims to conduct and apply research in genomic, epigenomic, and metagenomic changes to humans and associated microbes that lead to disease. Alyssa currently interns in the molecular oncology lab of Dr. Daniel Rosenberg of UConn Health. She contributes to multiple projects to develop chemopreventive agents for primary colorectal cancer with a focus on nutritional modulation through whole walnut consumption. Beginning the spring of freshman year and continuing in the summer, she performed histopathological analyses on mice models to determine the effects of varying dietary walnut levels on a cancer pathway driven by inflammation and presented the findings at university symposia. She is currently leading the continuation of this investigation by analyzing changes in the microbiome and epigenetic hydroxylmethylcytosine levels before and after inflammation and the effects of walnut consumption. Other projects include evaluating the importance of macrophage-derived mPGES-1 in tumorigenesis of mouse models and characterization of abnormal crypt foci (ACF) in normal human colons. Freshman year, as a Holster Scholar, she developed a novel research project into invasive plant biological control independent of an established lab. The summer-long experiment yielded significant implications to the control of the invasive plant Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife), a major contributor to the degradation of North American wetland ecosystems. She investigated chemical enhancements to the established bio-control system using Galerucella spp. beetles. This work was presented at the 2016 Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group Symposium and is currently under consideration for publication in The Journal of Life Sciences. She is also a recognized Babbidge scholar. Outside of academics, she works as a student partner to UConn for the online platform Wiley Plus and as a veterinarian technician assistant at Animal Medical Care of CT. She is an accomplished painter, dancer, and runs in the UConn running club.

Vincent Pistritto (CLAS, SFA, ’18) is an Honors student from Woodbury, CT pursuing a dual degree in chemistry and music. Upon graduation, he intends on pursuing a Ph. D. in chemistry with the ultimate goal of working to develop efficient, robust, and environmentally friendly routes to active pharmaceutical ingredients. As an undergraduate, he has worked in the laboratory of Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater looking to perform oxidative functionalization in a manner that is safer for the environment. In particular, his research looks to expand the reaction profile of an environmentally friendly oxidant commonly known as Bobbitt’s Salt. As part of his 2015 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship provided by the Department of Chemistry, Vincent investigated the cleavage of silyl ethers. This work has since been published in the journal Synlett as a way in which a typical two step procedure could be performed in a single reaction. More recent work has consisted of the synthesis of a variety of N-acyl azoles using Bobbitt’s Salt. This research was recently accepted and will be published shortly in the journal Organic Letters. In the summer of 2016, Vincent worked as a Summer Student Worker at Pfizer Inc. in Groton, CT as a member of the process chemistry team working towards the development of cross-electrophile coupling. Vincent was also named University Scholar in December 2016, the university’s highest distinction. As a part of his independent research project he will look to merge photoredox catalysis with a derivative of Bobbitt’s Salt to form trifluoromethyl ketones, a group with noted pharmaceutical value. Outside of the laboratory, Vincent is active as a member of the University of Connecticut Wind Ensemble as a clarinet player and also serves as the lead student coordinator of Honors Initiatives for Prospective Students (HIPS).

Nick Russo (CLAS ’18) is an Honors Student and STEM scholar majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology, with a focus on ornithology and forest community ecology. Since his freshman year, Nick has been working in the lab of Dr. Morgan Tingley, conducting research on the potential for birds to disperse hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect that devastates eastern hemlock forests. Nick received an IDEA Grant in summer 2016 to monitor adelgid carrying rates of birds in hemlock forests, and presented this research, and his Holster Scholar research, at the national Wilson Ornithological Society meeting in March, 2017. In November 2016, the results of his Holster Scholar research on adelgid transfer rates between hemlock branches and birds were published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Entomology.  As president of the UConn Birding Club and a representative of ECOalition, Nick takes a strong interest in citizen science and environmental awareness. As part of these organizations, he is working to implement a university general education requirement in environmental literacy and sustainability, and undertake a Connecticut Ornithological Society-funded project to ensure continued management of the Mansfield Community Garden for migratory birds. He received the Stewart L. and Morris K. Udall Scholarship in 2016 for his efforts, and was recently named a University Scholar. Nick works at the Writing Center, and in his spare time, he likes to bird, run, swim, and speak French.

 

Meet the 2015 Udall Nominees

Each year, on behalf of the University of Connecticut, the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships nominates students to compete nationally for the prestigious Udall Scholarship.  Named for Representative Morris K. Udall and his brother, Secretary Stewart L. Udall, this $5,000 undergraduate scholarship is awarded to high-achieving students from any discipline who are either passionate about the environment or  are Native American students committed to tribal healthcare or tribal policy, following legacy of the Udalls, who supported legislation to protect both the environment and Native American interests.  Recipients are also invited into a strong network of committed environmentalists and Native American advocates.  If you are a UConn student and want more information about the scholarship and how to seek nomination, start here.

Jessica Eileen Griffin (CLAS ’17), from Salem, CT, is a junior honors student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology and environmental science.  Her environmental research revolves around studying and preserving marine invertebrates.  She writes, “I want to become the Jane Goodall of marine worms.” She has been a research intern for Dr. Hans Dam in the Marine Sciences Department at UConn’s Avery Point campus.  She has also studied gene expression in stickleback fish in the laboratory of Dr. Eric Schultz in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and volunteered in the laboratory of Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. In addition to her commitment to environmental research, Jessica is passionate about environmental education and advocacy. At UConn, she has served as a Research Assistant for the GlobalEd2 project with Dr. Scott Brown at the Neag School of Education, where she worked with middle school students to address the topic of water scarcity at a UN simulation.  Also at UConn, she has been a member of the Geology Club and the Wildlife Society and volunteered for an anthropological dig at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. In addition to being an active member of EcoHusky, Jessica is an intern for UConn’s Office of Environmental Policy, where she has worked on the Tree Campus U.S.A. recertification and reviewed data for the Sierra Club Cool Schools survey, among other environmental policy initiatives. Last December, she was among a select handful of student activists from UConn selected to travel to the UN Conference of the Parties in Paris (COP21), the international conference on climate change policy.  This spring, she has been studying abroad at University College Dublin.

Amy Robinson (ENGR ’18), from Old Saybrook, CT, is a sophomore honors student in electrical engineering with a keen interest in motor efficiency.  She aspires to earn a PhD with a focus in renewable energy.  Currently, she is involved in Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Drives Laboratory of Dr. Ali Bazzi at UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering.  There, she is assisting a PhD student in modelling the effect of geometry on a switch reluctance motor’s magnetic field and power capabilities and independently researching causes of stray losses in induction motors. Amy is also a member of the Formula SAE team, which each year designs, builds and races a Formula-Style car for competition. When she’s not playing with motors, Amy is an advocate for ConnPIRG’s Hunger and Homelessness campaign.  Through ConnPIRG, she also petitioned for a go-Solar initiative, lobbying to incorporate solar power into UConn’s grid.  A proud member of the Society of Women Engineers, she has volunteered to encourage other young women to share her passion for alternative energy research.  A dedicated scholar-athlete and environmentalist, Amy was Captain of Old Saybrook High School’s Track Team where she also led the school’s recycling effort. At the college level, she is a Presidential Scholar and a New England Scholar, and is a rower on UConn’s D1 Women’s Crew Team.

Nicholas Russo (CLAS ’18) is a sophomore honors student with an “innate desire to lead people into the woods.” A resident of N. Scituate, RI, Nick came to UConn as a STEM Scholar with a background rich in environmental science and education. In 2012, he was awarded 1st Grant at the RI State Science and Engineering Fair for a project determining that ascorbic acid content of white pine needles correlates to soil pH.  As an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major, he has worked in the lab of Dr. Mark Urban, sorting and recording zooplankton samples and is secretary of the Genetic Engineering Team.  As a summer 2015 Holster Scholar, he conducted his own research project, with mentorship from EEB’s Dr. Morgan Tingley and Dr. Carole Cheah at the CT Agricultural Experiment Station, to study the role of birds in dispersing the woolly adelgid (which is threatening the eastern hemlock). Nick has been very active with the Audubon Society, both in Rhode Island and in Connecticut and is President of UConn’s Birding Club. He has also participated in the HASB New Orleans Alternative Spring Break and the New London Alternative Weekend and is a member of the Kayaking Club. This summer, he will continue his research as a UConn IDEA Grant recipient.

 

2016 Goldwater Nominees

Each year, universities may nominate up to four sophomores or juniors to compete in the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship Competition.  For more information about UConn’s nomination process and the scholarship itself, click HERE.  This year’s nominees include one sophomore and three juniors from a variety of STEM disciplines.  Each satisfied the Goldwater’s criteria of academic excellence, demonstrate research experience and potential, and the desire to earn a PhD in their field.  Also vital is the strong support of their faculty mentors. Nominees will have until January 22, 2016 to complete the national application.  Results will be posted at or around April 1, 2016.

Adrian J. Coscia (CLAS ’17) from Greenwich, CT, is an honors molecular and cell biology student. Adrian aspires to earn an MD/PhD in biophysics and biochemistry, and to develop therapeutics as a biomedical researcher. He is currently conducting research with Dr. Nathan Alder, an associate professor of molecular and cell biology, investigating the structure and function of the ERMES protein complex. Under the direction of Dr. Sharon Smith, professor of pediatrics at the UConn School of Medicine, Adrian also serves as a clinical research assistant in the emergency department at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. In this regard he is responsible for conducting, and enrolling patients in, a variety of clinical research studies. His freshman year, he also worked with Dr. Deborah Shelton, professor of nursing, where he contributed to a publication addressing the available treatment options for psychopathy in forensic populations. Eager to further develop both his breadth and depth of research experience, Adrian serves as the vice president of the UConn Genetic Engineering Team. Working closely with Dr. Rachel O’Neill, he helps lead and develop the team’s research project in the Institute for Systems Genomics. Recently selected as a University Scholar, UConn’s highest academic distinction, he has also earned recognition as a Babbidge Scholar. He is also the recipient of the Academic Excellence Scholarship, and was awarded the Dr. Jack T. Sanderson Memorial Award by MagneTek and the Spire Corporation for excellence in the study and teaching of science. On campus he extends his passion for the outdoors, music, and science, having participated in the UConn Ski and Snowboard, Outing, and SCUBA clubs, the concert band, and as a TedxUConn organizer

Cameron Timothy Flower (ENG ’17) from Burlington, CT, is an honors student majoring in biomedical engineering and pursuing minors in bioinformatics, information technology, and computer science. Cameron aspires to earn a Ph.D. in computational biology, building on his profound interest in the development of computational methods to improve personalized therapies using genome sequencing data.  Following his freshman year at UConn, Cameron was selected to work as a student researcher under Dr. Pramod Srivastava in the Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases at UConn Health. Under the guidance of Dr. Srivastava, Cameron spent the summer of 2014 studying the immunogenicity of predicted tumor-specific cell markers, called neoepitopes, derived from a chemically induced sarcoma using a mouse model. It was in this setting that Cameron realized his own passion for scientific investigation, and grew interested in the computational methods and pipelines developed to predict candidate neoepitopes for personalized cancer vaccines. Throughout his sophomore year, Cameron performed statistical analysis for a study to determine the physiological mechanisms of fatigue and oxygen toxicity under Dr. Ki Chon in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. Last year Cameron was recognized with the Deligeorges Family Scholarship in Biomedical Engineering for his work under Dr. Chon. Cameron continued his research under Dr. Srivastava and Dr. Sahar Al Seesi over the summer of 2015, conducting a computational study to investigate the immune evasion of melanoma tumors by differential gene expression analysis. He presented his work, titled “Melanoma Immune Evasion: A Computational Investigation of Differential Gene Expression” at UConn Health and at the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research poster exhibition. A dedicated scholar in the laboratory and the classroom, Cameron has earned the distinction of Babbidge Scholar and has been inducted into multiple reputable honor societies. He currently serves as the Vice President of the UConn chapter of Alpha Eta Mu Beta, the national honor society of biomedical engineering, and was recently inducted into Tau Beta Pi, the oldest and most prestigious engineering honor society in the U.S.

John Michael Ovian (CLAS ’17) from Madison, CT, is an honors student pursuing dual B.S./M.S. degrees in chemistry. John plans on earning a Ph.D. in chemistry upon graduation. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater in the Department of Chemistry, his research has focused generally on organic methodology development, with the overarching goal of making organic synthesis a more environmentally friendly field. To this end, he works with an oxoammonium salt oxidant (known as Bobbitt’s Salt), which is safe, environmentally benign, and recyclable. As a Holster Scholar he spent the summer after his freshman year probing the mechanism of oxoammonium salt oxidations and developing a method to cleave allyl ethers to their corresponding carbonyl species. These projects were published in the peer-reviewed journals, The Journal of Organic Chemistry and Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, respectively. Additionally, he has developed a method for the direct oxidative conversion of aldehydes to nitriles, which was published in the leading chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, and also a method for oxidative ring opening of cyclic ethers, will be submitted for review soon. He has been awarded several Office of Undergraduate Research grants and presented numerous poster and oral presentations. This past summer, John worked in the laboratory of Dr. Neil Garg at UCLA as a part of the prestigious Amgen Scholars Program. Recently, John was selected as a University Scholar, where his project involves merging photocatalysis with oxoammonium salt chemistry. He also possesses a passion for teaching and mentoring his peers and is a teaching assistant for both the honors organic and general chemistry sequences, as well as a Peer Research Ambassador and Peer Allies Through Honors mentor. John enjoys singing as the music director of Extreme Measures, one of UConn’s premier co-ed a cappella groups.

Shaharyar Zuberi (CLAS ’17) from Rocky Hill, CT, is an honors student majoring in physiology and neurobiology with a minor in psychology. He started research his freshman year when he worked with Dr. William Barta in UConn’s Center for Correctional Health Networks studying DUI recidivism. He then worked in the Translational Research and Neural Stimulation lab under Dr. Chi-Ming Chen in the psychology department studying the mechanisms of auditory hallucinations in patients with Schizophrenia. This research experience allowed Shaharyar to take part in the Undergraduate Student Scholars Program at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania during the summer of 2015. Here, he worked in the lab of Dr. John Lynch in the Gastroenterology department, using the CRISPR-Cas9 system, a revolutionary tool in the field of genetic engineering, to model Barrett’s Esophagus in vitro.  Shaharyar currently works in the lab of Dr. Joanne Conover on a project studying reactive astrogliosis and glial scar formation, a physiological phenomenon in which astrocytes undergo a variety of genetic and morphological changes in response to neurological injury. He hopes to continue research in the field of neurodegeneration as he enters medical school. Shaharyar is also a member of UConn Empower and serves as the CFO for TEDxUConn. A Babbidge scholar and recipient of the Lt. Paul Drotch Memorial Scholarship, Shaharyar was recently selected to be a University Scholar, UConn’s highest academic distinction.

Meet UConn’s 2016 Truman Scholarship Nominees

Each year, universities may nominate up to four juniors to compete in the prestigious Truman Scholarship competition for high-achieving students dedicated to careers in public service.  For more information about UConn’s nomination process and the scholarship itself, click HERE.  Nominees are selected for their strong academic records, demonstrated commitment to public service and exceptional leadership skills.   Also vital is the support of faculty mentors and professionals in their chosen fields.  This year’s nominees will have until February 2, 2016 to complete the national application.  Finalists will then be invited to a regional interview in March, with results to follow.  Good luck to all!

Adam Kuegler is a junior honors student from Watertown, CT majoring in political science and part of UConn’s Special Program in Law. Current Vice President of the UConn Undergraduate Student Government, Adam also serves as Chair of the External Affairs Committee, which under his leadership has advocated for sexual assault survivors and potential victims.  He has also served as USG’s representative on two Town-University Relations committees and is leading UConn’s efforts as Host and President University of the Universitas 21 Student Leaders Network. Last summer, he interned for Representative Bill Schuster (R-PA) in Washington D.C.  A member of the UConn College Republicans, Adam is an active volunteer for Marco Rubio’s campaign in New Hampshire leading up to that state’s primary.  He has extensive campaign experience on the state, local, and national level, including serving as Co-social Media Director for the Connecticut Grassroots Campaign for Newt Gingrich in 2012.  Adam is particularly interested in the political process and the voter ID debate.  As a freshman he was awarded a Holster First Year Experience grant for a project titled, “Voter Identification Laws: It’s all in the Implementation.” Part of the 2015 Leadership Legacy cohort, Adam is also an Eagle Scout who remains an active member of Troop 140.  He plans to attend law school in the future and is committed to serving the public through good governance.

Marissa Piccolo is a junior honors student from Trumbull, CT majoring in political science and economics with a minor in women’s studies.  Marissa’s interests include narrowing the wage gap and broadening the representation of women in politics.  She was selected nationally to participate in the Mount Vernon Leadership Fellows program where she received mentorship from professionals at EMILY’s list, among others.  She has since launched Local Women Lead, an initiative to encourage women in politics through mentoring. Active locally on the political scene, Marissa is President of UConn College Democrats and co-founder of UConn for Hillary.  She has served as the Northeast Representative for College Democrats of America National Policy Council.  In addition, she has been a research assistant at the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research and a recipient of a SHARE (Social Science, Humanities, and Arts Research Experience) grant with Dr. Prakash Kashwan in the Department of Political Science.  Work from a project funded by a Holster First Year Experience grant, “Redefining the Role of Mental Health Services in Public High Schools,” received the 2014 Aetna Writing in the Disciplines Award for Social Sciences.  A Babbidge Scholar and recipient of the Wilma and Lucretia Dewey Tanner Scholarship, the Irving Smirnoff Award in Political Science, and a Global Citizenship Scholarship, Marissa was a participant this fall in the UConn in London program.

Erin Puglia is a junior honors student from Trumbull, CT majoring in political science & human rights and part of UConn’s Special Program in Law. In 2015, she was selected nationally for a UK Fulbright Summer Institute Award at Queen’s University in Belfast, which focused on conflict resolution.  A passionate supporter of LGBTQ rights, Erin was a participant in Community Outreach’s New York City Alternative Break focused on gender and sexual identity.  Afterwards, she became the political liaison and organizer of “UConn Speak Out,” an event confronting hate on campus, which drew state local representatives and was awarded Outstanding Student Activist Group Project by the UConn Rainbow Center.  As a Bennett Research Assistant in the Department of Political Science and a recipient of a Roper Award for Research Experience (RARE) grant, she is studying American politics and plans to pursue a master’s in public administration in order to effect progressive policy reform.  She has been a tutor and Assistant Program Director at Mansfield Middle School, a participant of “Elect Her” Women in Politics Training, and Office of Leadership Programs H.O.L.D.U.P. mentor, among many other activities. This year, Erin is the Trip Director for the Urban Poverty and Political Action Alternative Break trip to Washington D.C.  A recipient of a CLAS Undergraduate Scholars Fund Scholarship and an Academic Excellence Scholarship, Erin received in high school the CT Association of Boards of Education Student Leadership Award, among many other impressive accolades.

 

 

UConn’s 2015 Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell Nominees

Good Luck to UConn’s Nominees for the Rhodes, Marshall & Mitchell Scholarships

Alexandra Ball (CLAS: ENGL/POLS ’15), graduated from the University of Connecticut as an Honors Scholar in May 2015 and is now living in Brighton, MA working for Bridge International Academies where she is creating science content and lesson plans for Bridge schools in Uganda. Dedicated to international education reform, Allie (as she is known) spent time during a 2013 study abroad experience in Cape Town, South Africa coordinating the “Books for Nyanga” drive to build a library at a township school.  She later led an effort through the student organization UConn Empower, to deliver direct service to a school in Rishikesh, India.  In the U.S., she has been a teaching intern at both Greens Farms Academy, a private school in Westport, and Tomlinson Middle School, a public school in Fairfield, her hometown.  While at UConn, Allie served as an intern for the UNESCO Chair & Institute on Comparative Human Rights and Vice President for the UConn chapter of Lawyers Without Borders.  Her honors thesis, supervised by Dr. Shareen Hertel, examined institutionalized racism plaguing education reform efforts in South Africa.  Among her many additional activities, Allie participated on an Alternative Spring Break to the Southern Appalachian Labor School in West Virginia, volunteered for America Reads and worked at The Daily Campus.  She also spent a summer as a counselor at Teton Valley Ranch Camp in Wyoming, where she honed her backcountry skills.  In addition to spending time outdoors, Allie enjoys writing and amateur astronomy.  She has been nominate for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships and is also applying to the University of Cambridge and the Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study global education policies.

Antonio Campelli (FNAR: Art ’15), from Tolland, CT, graduated from the University of Connecticut in May 2015. An assistant cataloger at the William Benton Museum, Antonio is planning to move this fall to New York City where he will pursue an art career and further develop his curating skills.  Renowned in the School of Fine Arts not only for his talent as an artist, but also for his commitment to the arts community, Antonio was a founding member of Everbody Arts, a student organization dedicated to arts outreach on campus and at local schools.  He served on the UConn School of Fine Arts Student Advisory Council and curated his senior class show, which included fundraising for lighting and other vital materials.  Before entering UConn to earn his BFA, Antonio was homeschooled and attended Manchester Community College at a young age.  He has excelled in numerous subjects across the liberal arts and sciences and has even amassed technical and trade skills, spending time each summer building houses with his church community for the poor.  He has also owned his own landscaping and horticultural propagation business, Bella Fiore, and is a gymnast and parkour enthusiast. In 2010, he participated in the highly selective Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop Summer Program, and while at UConn received SURF and IDEA grants to study experimental book formats and installation art.  Under the guidance of Ray DiCapua, he completed a University Scholar thesis project and has exhibited his work at numerous galleries.  One of his paintings, done in collaboration with another UConn student, is on permanent display at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts.  Antonio is a nominee for the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships and hopes to study at Goldsmiths, University of London or the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford.

Brendan Costello (CLAS: ECON/POLS ’16) is a honors student from Cromwell, CT, a two-time New England Scholar and recipient of the Paul N. Taylor Memorial Prize in economics.  Last summer, he was a research intern at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland where he co-authored publications on regional labor markets and P/E ratios while assisting researchers and coding economic models.  Particularly interested in the quantitative-side of economics, Brendan is also completing a minor in mathematics.  He has been a recipient of a UConn SHARE (Social Science, Humanities and Arts Research Experience) grant with Dr. Talia Bar in the Department of Economics, for whom he has been a research assistant since August 2014. After a near-perfect score on his LSAT exam, Brendan plans to attend law school and serve the public interest in government, armed with an advanced knowledge of economics (having already enrolled in several graduate economics courses).  He has been President of the UConn Law Society since 2013, reviving the group and serving as a dedicated role model for his peers.  As a member of the Mock Trial Team, he received the Outstanding Attorney Award from the American Mock Trial Association last winter at a regional competition at Yale.  This fall, he was appointed to lead UConn’s College Fed Challenge Team.  In addition, Brendan has worked as a legal and compliance intern at Virtus Investment Partners, Inc. in Hartford.  He is a nominee for the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships and hopes to earn a master’s degree in economics in the U.K. before returning to the U.S. for his law degree.

Emily Kaufman (CLAS: HR/COGSCI ’16), from Portsmouth, RI, is an honors student double majoring in human rights and cognitive science. An Executive Board member of the CLAS Student Leadership Board, she is serving as chair of the Student and Alumni Relations Task Force. She is also a UNESCO Student Ambassador of Human Rights and leader of the Visualizing Human Rights at UConn Project, which is gathering visual interpretations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from faculty and students for an exhibit in spring 2015.  She spent spring of her sophomore year studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa where she was also an intern for Treatment Action Campaign, a non-profit dedicated to campaigning for access to HIV/AIDS and TB treatment.  Funded by a U.S. Department of State Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, Emily was also selected among Gilman recipients to be a travel correspondent, submitting weekly articles and photos for a classroom in the U.S. Emily has also traveled to Sydney, Australia to represent UConn at the 2014 Universitas 21 Conference on the “Shaping of Future Cities.”  In 2013, she participated in the Universitas 21 Conference on human rights hosted by the University of Connecticut.  Since October 2013, she has served as Student Assistant for Programs at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, assisting with a variety of research projects and events. During summer 2015, she interned for the Business and Human Rights Resources Centre, a watchdog organization dedicated to researching the role of business in human rights abuses.  She plans to earn a master’s in human rights with particular interests in corporate social responsibility and climate policy.  Ultimately, she aspires to work for an organization that advocates for human rights and policy reforms that influence the practices of multinational corporations.  Emily has received the Study Abroad Global Citizenship Award, is a recipient of funding from UConn’s Human Rights Institute and was recently selected as part of UConn’s 2015 Leadership Legacy cohort. She was a Finalist in the 2015 Truman competition.  Drawn to acclaimed human rights programs in Galway, Ireland and Essex in the UK, she is a nominee this fall for the Mitchell and Marshall Scholarships.

Brendan Michael Smalec (FNAR/CLAS: MCB ’16) from Cheshire, CT, is a dual degree honors student majoring in molecular and cell biology and art history. Brendan plans to earn a PhD in genetics, expanding on his growing knowledge of the role epigenetics in cancer susceptibility and progression.  During his freshman year at UConn, he was chosen to participate in the highly-selective Holster Scholars program to work with PhD student Brianna Flynn in the laboratory of Dr. Rachel O’Neill on a project titled, “Genomic Instability and Karyotypic Rearrangements in the Development of Harderian Gland Adenocarcinoma in Peromyscus leucopus.” Basically, he is studying abnormalities at the genetic, genomic and epigenetic level associated with cancer in mice, has twice presented this research and is currently working on two papers for future publication.  During summer 2014, Brendan worked in the laboratory of Dr. Brenton Graveley, from the Department of Developmental Biology and Genetics at the University of Connecticut Health Center, studying the regulation of alternative splicing and small RNA function as part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) Project.  He presented this work at the 2014 Fall Frontiers poster session. A recipient of a UConn SURF Grant, IDEA Grant and a UConn Translational Research Grant, he also serves as an Office of Undergraduate Research Peer Research Ambassador was selected to be a University Scholar, with his research in the O’Neill lab as the basis for his thesis.  He is a member of the UConn Pre-Medical Society, Medical Humanitarian Society and Bioethics Club and participated in an Alternative Spring Break involving environmental restoration in Biloxi, Mississippi in 2013.  A current member of the UConn Swim Club, Brendan was, in high school, a recipient of the Connecticut Swimming Three Year Scholar Athlete Award and the Connecticut Association of Schools Scholar Athlete Award.  At UConn, he has received numerous awards, including a Fine Arts Talent Scholarship and the Marion and Marjorie Case Art History Scholarship in recognition of his abilities in art history. Last spring, Brendan was named an Honorable Mention in the Goldwater Scholarship competition.  He is a nominee for the Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships and is applying to the University of Cambridge and for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship and NIH-Oxford/Cambridge Scholarship, ideally to earn his PhD in the UK and collaborate with top researchers at the NIH in Bethesda, MD.

Mary Rockett (CLAS: POLS ’15), widely known as “Molly,” graduated in May 2015 as a political science major, honors student, two-time New England Scholar and University Scholar from Somers, CT. A 2014 Truman Scholar, she is currently living in Washington DC, where as a Truman-Albright Fellow she is working for FairVote: The Center for Voting and Democracy. Deeply committed to political engagement, Molly led UConn’s College Democrats to an impressive showing in an off-year election cycle in her sophomore year.  She has been an intern for both Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative Joe Courtney in Washington DC, and served as a Nominator at Courtney’s Nominating Convention.  Despite her national exposure, Molly believes strongly that political engagement starts at the local level, and she was elected in 2013 to the Somers Board of Education.  In high school, she organized a Youth Issues Assembly with Rep. Courtney for her school and, as President of the Somers Gay/Straight Alliance, was an active leader in support of the LGBT community.  At the college level, Molly has been a research assistant for Dr. Matthew Singer, examining voting behavior in Latin America, and was awarded a Roper Award for Research Experience (RARE) grant with Dr. Virginia Hettinger for a project titled, “Public Perception and Judicial Legitimacy,” which became the basis for her University Scholar thesis.  As a sophomore, she was invited to participate in UConn’s Leadership Legacy program and in other opportunities for emerging leaders, including the National Education for Women (NEW) Leadership New England Conference and “Elect Her”: Women in Politics Training Conference.  A recipient of the Donald McCullough Leadership Award and the Robert F. and Margaret Dodge Belden Scholarship, she was a 2014 nominee for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships and a Finalist in both competitions.  This year, she is re-applying to the Marshall Scholarship to study election policy at Royal Holloway, University of London in the UK.