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Two W&L Juniors Win Goldwater Scholarships

Two Washington and Lee University juniors — Kathryn E. Driest, of Davidson, N.C., and Andrew Seredinski, of Flourtown, Pa. — have received the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

Driest and Seredinksi were among 271 Goldwater Scholars selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,107 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

The Goldwater is the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering.

“I am thrilled that both Katie and Andrew have been recognized for their impressive achievements,” said Jeffrey Rahl, associate professor of geology and W&L’s faculty representative to the Goldwater program. “Both have excelled not only in the classroom but also in their research pursuits, and the foundation was right to acknowledge their potential for leadership within science.”

Driest is a biochemistry major with a minor in mathematics. She competes on the cross country and track and field teams, does peer tutoring and works in the Math Center.

“It’s a real honor for me to receive this award,” said Driest, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry with the goal of teaching and conducting research on the university level. “I have had some great advisers and appreciate all that they did for me throughout the process.”

Driest has spent the past two summers working with Fred LaRiviere, associate professor of chemistry, on research in ribosome assembly and destruction. Her Goldwater proposal was an extension of that work on RNA degradation pathways, specifically exploring what the cell does when mutations of the ribosome occur.

She will join LaRiviere and W&L senior Jessie R. Ykimoff to present their research at the 245th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans on Sunday, April 7. The title of their paper is “Microarray analysis of nonfunctional ribosomal RNA decay in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.”

“Katie shows tremendous promise as a research scientist. Her faculty enthusiastically praise her natural talent, drive and accomplishments,” said Rahl. “Through the Goldwater nomination process, I have gotten a firsthand glimpse of the natural talent, thoughtfulness and determination that my colleagues have seen in her. Katie is an extraordinary student with a tremendous future in science.”

Seredinksi is a triple major in physics, philosophy and mathematics, with a minor in German. In addition, he serves as a resident advisor for first-year students, is president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and sings in both the University Singers and the a cappella group General Admission.

“I had explored the Goldwater Scholarship during my sophomore year but concluded I wasn’t qualified,” said Seredinski. “Then one of my professors, Jonathan Erickson (assistant professor of engineering), suggested that I apply. The Goldwater means a lot to me. It’s nice to be recognized for putting the hard work in.”

Seredinski plans a career in research after pursuing a Ph.D. in physics or applied physics.

He based his Goldwater proposal on research that he conducted last summer with W&L professors Irina Mazilu and Dan Mazilu in the Thin Film Lab.

“We created a particle deposition model on a graph called a Cayley tree to model how particles adhere to a surface in a process we use to make thin films,” Seredinski said. “My Goldwater proposal looks into applying our particle deposition model to dendrimers, which have the structure of a Cayley tree.”

Along with both Irina Mazilu, associate professor of physics and engineering, and Dan Mazilu, assistant professor of physics, Seredinski and three of his classmates presented their research at the 2013 March Meeting of the American Physical Society in Baltimore. They also published a paper on the research, which appeared last year in the Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment.

“Andrew is a remarkable student and has chosen to pursue an especially challenging course of study to gain problem-solving skills from different perspectives,” Rahl said. “He has worked on both theoretical and experimental aspects of anti-reflection coatings, and his contributions to this project have been exceptional. Like Katie, I think Andrew is extremely deserving of this award.”

The scholarship gives each student up to $7,500 a year for tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Established in1986, the scholarship program honoring the late U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater is designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459