2015 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 23, 2015 to complete the national application.  Results will be posted at or around April 1, 2015.

Good Luck to All!

Michael Joseph Bond (CLAS ’16), an honors student from Windsor Locks, CT, is a molecular and cell biology major and chemistry minor who aspires to earn a PhD in medicinal chemistry in order to discover novel cancer chemotherapies for pediatric cancer patients.  Since freshman year, Michael has been developing his research and skills in the laboratory of Dr. Charles Giardina from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. Here he has been examining colon cancer cells to better understand the regulation of TNFR1-mediated cancer cell death.  A 2014 UConn SURF Grant recipient, he spent the summer characterizing the sensitizing microtubule disrupting agent AK301 in HT29 human colon cancer cells and was awarded “Third Best Poster Presentation” by the Northeast Society of Toxicology this fall.  This summer he looks forward to joining the laboratory of Dr. Dennis Wright, in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, where he will assist in the synthesis of new derivatives of AK301. When he is not in the lab, Michael is busy as a Resident Assistant and serves as an Office of Undergraduate Research Peer Research Ambassador.  A member of UConn Change Lives/Distressed Children’s International and UConn Colleges against Cancer, he is an active fundraiser for Relay for Life.  A recipient of a Presidential Scholarship and a New England Scholar, he was recently selected to be a University Scholar, UConn’s highest academic distinction. Michael also enjoys playing flag football, softball, racquetball and ice skating.

Diana Cristina Cibreiro Macklem (CLAS ’16), from Tolland, CT, is a biological sciences major and honors student with a passion for amphibians.  She was drawn to wildlife ecology having participated seven years ago as a young field biologist for the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and a student volunteer for the Turtle Research Conservation Project in Tolland. Once at UConn, Cristina (as she is called) was chosen as a freshman honors student to participate in the highly-selective Holster Scholars program wherein she worked with Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse in the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, studying the effects of temperature variability on frogs (Lithobates sylvatica and Hyla veriscolor).  She has also worked as a field technician for Dr. Rittenhouse and has designed a long-term field experiment to analyze the effect of exurban housing age and density on salamanders (Desmognathus fuscus, Eurycea bislineata and Plethodon cinereus). This fall 2014, she participated in Duke University’s Tropical Biology in a Changing Planet semester abroad program in Costa Rica, where she assisted with faculty research on Cane Toads and completed an independent experiment examining the jump response of Oophaga pumilio frogs.  When she is on campus, Cristina is an enthusiastic member of the UConn Outing Club and a member of the Wildlife Society.  A former member of Honors Council, a two-time New England Scholar and recipient of the Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association Scholarship, she was a 2014 UConn nominee for the Udall Scholarship and was recently selected to be a University Scholar, UConn’s highest academic distinction

Isabel Chun-Yun Nip (CLAS ’17), from West Hartford, CT, is a biological sciences major and honors student with MD/PhD aspirations, with an objective of integrating medical research with medicine.  Isabel began her research journey as a high school student through UConn’s Mentor Connection program, where she worked with Dr. Kenneth Campellone in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology characterizing cell lines expressing the cytoskeleton protein WHAMM.  Once at UConn, she was chosen as a freshman honors student to participate in the highly-selective Holster Scholars program, where she continued to develop her work in the Campellone lab, investigating the role of WHAMM, Rab1 and a-Syn on SH-SY5Y human neuronal cells.  Her current research examining the role of cytoskeleton on Parkinson’s disease promises to be the basis for her honors thesis.  When she is not in the lab, she sings with the UConn Collegiate Choir, shadows physicians, volunteers at the Hartford Rescue Mission and UConn Health Center, and performs Chinese traditional dances with Asian Performing Arts in many venues across Connecticut.  Last May, she participated in a service trip to the Dominican Republic, where she volunteered at local health clinics.  A Presidential Scholar and member of the Pre-Med Society and the Medical Humanitarian Society, Isabel is a clarinetist and an accomplished pianist, having earned a Piano Performance Certificate Diploma and High Honors in Piano (College Level 1) from the University of Hartford before entering UConn.

Brendan Michael Smalec (FNAR/CLAS ’16) from Cheshire, CT, is a dual degree honors student majoring in molecular and cell biology and art history. Brendan aspires to earn a PhD in genomics, expanding on his growing knowledge of the role of 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 a paper for future publication.  The past summer, 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 IDEA Grant and a UConn Translational Research Grant, he also serves as an Office of Undergraduate Research Peer Research Ambassador was recently selected to be a University Scholar, UConn’s highest academic distinction.  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.