Two students recognized as Goldwater Scholars
April 12, 2011Tweet
Two Binghamton University students have been awarded the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which honors exceptional undergraduate researchers who intend to enter math, science or engineering fields.
Junior Jared Schmitz and sophomore William Marsiglia are two of 275 students to win the $7,500 annual award. Nearly 1,100 students from U.S. universities and colleges applied for the scholarship. Binghamton University was the only SUNY school with multiple recipients: Stony Brook, Geneseo and Buffalo each had one winner. Other New York schools with two winners included Cornell University, Columbia University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Hunter College.
Matthew Antalek, a junior math and biochemistry double major, was named a runner-up by the Goldwater program.
“It’s a great scholarship that is very competitive,” said Marsiglia, a biochemistry and music double major. “This is good for Binghamton in terms of showing what kinds of students we have.”
“I had no idea how (the scholarship) was so prestigious until I looked to see how many people it had been awarded to,” said Schmitz, a computer science major. “When I saw that (275) won, I thought, ‘Oh, this is a big deal.’”
The Goldwater Scholarship is even more prestigious for Schmitz, who is one of only five computer science majors in the nation to receive the award this year. The 20-year-old from Huntington Station is advised by associate professors Nael Abu-Ghazaleh and Dmitry Ponomarev. Schmitz has researched computer security in Ponomarev’s lab for more than a year and credits the hands-on atmosphere with much of his success.
“If you do research at bigger schools, your adviser will say, ‘Come up with a research topic,’ look at your abstract and not really help you,” Schmitz said. “My professor here is overly available. It’s great: If we ever have a problem, (Ponomarev) is in the building and always where we can talk with him. We’ll sit down in a conference room, fill up a white board and figure it out.”
A research paper authored by Schmitz on computer security has been accepted – and will be published – by the Design Automation Conference. He will present on the topic at the organization’s annual conference in San Diego in June.
Ponomarev praised Schmitz’s creativity, maturity and ability to work both independently and as part of a team.
“I am extremely impressed with Jared’s ability to quickly capture the new concepts, analyze them, read supplemental literature and make contributions toward the project goals,” Ponomarev said. “Instead of being discouraged by the challenges, Jared views them as additional opportunities.”
Marsiglia, a 19-year-old from Holtsville, works with Associate Professor of Chemistry Christof Grewer on the study of transport proteins. A trombonist for the University Orchestra, he also plans to start a science journal for Binghamton University undergraduate researchers.
“Even if students’ papers aren’t published by a major journal, the research is still worth showing to others and saying, ‘This is what the students do here,’” he said.
Marsiglia is no stranger to major awards, having won first place at the New York State Science and Engineering Fair as a high school student for a project that examined wound healing and regeneration rates in worms. The project later earned him a third-place award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Reno, Nev.
Like Schmitz, Marsiglia said the University’s faculty members have been instrumental in his success.
“The teachers are supportive, knowledgeable and easy to ask questions of,” Marsiglia said. “Different professors cover different areas of chemistry and it’s nice to see we have specialists who can give you a global perspective by taking their classes. There is such a variety of fields and professors in those fields.”