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.