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4 students win prestigious awards

By : Ingrid Husisian

Four Binghamton University students have recently been recog- nized with prestigious awards. All enrolled in Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, they are Ravi Gupta ‘05, Truman Foundation Scholarship winner; Alina Tourkova ‘04, Junior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Matthew Gervais ‘06 and Elisa Pueschel ‘05, Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships recipients.

In recognizing the students, Binghamton University President Lois B. DeFleur said, “Our students are extraordinarily talented and successful, and we are proud, as a University community, to share in the honor and distinction of these esteemed awards which they have received.”

“We’re extremely proud that these Harpur College students have received such nationally competitive awards,” said Jean-Pierre Mileur, Harpur College dean. “That they are winning such honors is a testament to the quality of our students and the education they receive.”

Gupta, a double major in science and public policy and philosophy from Staten Island, has been selected to receive a $26,000 scholarship from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. He is only the second Binghamton student in 20 years to win the award. Selected for his academic credentials, leadership skills, commitment to public service and likelihood to “make a difference,” Gupta is one of 77 winners chosen from 212 finalists from throughout the nation. Last summer, Gupta taught English and science to children in Ghana while raising money to build a school there. Upon his return, he founded Bing

matt gervais
hamton Students for Students International, a SA-chartered group that raises awareness and funds for students in Third-World countries, and Atuu International, a New York state registered charity, which raises scholarship funds for students in Ghana.

Gupta is a resident assistant in Cayuga Hall, volunteers at Red Cross blood drives and was a student volunteer for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. He is a member of BU’s College Democrats and serves as a project leader for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). He tutors his classmates at the Center for Academic Excellence and donates his wages to Atuu International.

“Getting the scholarship shows how great Binghamton really is,” Gupta said. “I was up against some great people from some of the best schools in the country. I spent a lot of my interview speaking about the future of this school and how much I identified with it.”

In May, Gupta will participate in Truman Scholars Leadership Week at William Jewell College, followed by an awards ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Mo.

Tourkova, one of fewer than a dozen students selected from a pool of 305 applicants from across the United States, has been named a Junior Carnegie Fellow for the 2004-05 academic year.

Expected to graduate in May with a double major in political science and Russian studies and a minor in economics, she will work in Washington D.C. at the Carnegie Endowment’s Russian and Eurasian program as a research assistant to academics, former government officials, lawyers and

Elisa Pueschel
journalists from throughout the world. Their role is to study the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the United States’ role in the world.

Tourkova, who is president of the University’s Russian Club that she established in 2000, has tutored students in political science and Russian at Harpur College. She has also mentored local middle school children who recently emigrated from Russia and the Ukraine, helping them to adjust to their new lives. She spent last summer as a Dr. Israel J. Rosefsky Language and Culture scholarship student, studying in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“I think this is a great opportunity and will open a lot of doors, as well as allow me to learn so much about international relations,” Tourkova said. Gervais, a sophomore who is double majoring in psychobiology and philosophy and minoring in anthropology from Liverpool, and Pueschel, a junior majoring in physics from Vestal, are among 310 winners from 1,113 nominees nationwide for the Goldwater Scholarships, considered the premier national award for undergraduate science, mathematics and engineering students. Eleven BU students have won Goldwater Scholarships since 1990.

Gervais received an Undergraduate Research Award last fall to study the evolution and causes of laughter by synthesizing existing theories and research from across several disciplines. His work continues as an independent study with evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson. Gervais is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Golden Key National Honor Society and has made the dean’s list each semester.

“I think this is proof on a national level of the unique and tremendous work that Professor David Wilson and Binghamton University are doing with the Evolutionary Studies program,” said Gervais, adding that Binghamton is a “special place” for studying evolutionary approaches to human behavior.

Pueschel is a Binghamton Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She won first place in the fall 2002 undergraduate poster competition at the American Physical Society Symposium. Last spring, she received an Undergraduate Research Award to study the relationship between a metal particle’s size and its melting temperature with physicist Eric Cotts.

Pueschel is now working with Professor Charles Nelson in physics to develop new ways of studying the top quark, a mercurial variety of one of the two elementary building blocks of matter, at the particle collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Chicago. She hopes to earn her doctorate in physics and become a professor.

“I was really happy to receive the scholarship,” Pueschel said. “I blame my good luck on the nurturing learning environment that is available at Binghamton and the fact that much of the faculty is deeply committed to teaching.”

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship was endowed in 1986 to honor the late U.S. senator. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses for tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 annually. Sophomore recipients are eligible for two years of financial support and junior recipients are eligible for one year of financial support.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08