POUGHKEEPSIE, NY— Vassar junior Mark Durniak (Poughkeepsie, NY), a mathematics and soon-to-be-declared physics major, has been named a Goldwater Scholar for 2010, receiving one of 278 scholarships awarded for the 2010–11 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. Durniak will receive up to $7,500 to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Vassar junior Evgeny Bulat (Cambridge, MA), a chemistry major, received an honorable mention.
Mark Durniak has participated in both mathematics and physics research during Vassar’s Undergraduate Research Summer Institutes. He worked with Assistant Professor of Physics Brian Daly studying the properties of thin films using nondestructive methods and with Assistant Professor of Mathematics Kariane Calta studying the Veech group of translation surfaces. He also spent two semesters with then Vassar senior Alyssa Mezzacapa building a magnetron sputter coater with funding from the DOE and help from Princeton's Plasma Physics Laboratory.
He writes, “As it stands now I would like to combine math and physics and attend engineering graduate school with the eventual aim of a Ph.D. I have always been interested in sustainable energy. My senior year in high school I researched and designed a solar array for the school that is just now coming to fruition thanks to a donation from the Dyson Foundation. I really enjoyed that project so I would like my career to be in the vein of ‘green energy engineering,’ working to design and build sustainable energy grids, as well as discovering new and improved green energy techniques.”
Evgeny Bulat has most recently been working with Assistant Professor of Chemistry Teresa Garrett at Vassar on identifying the genetic and biochemical basis for the production of minor membrane phospholipids in E. coli. In addition, he writes, “Starting in June, I will be involved in a 10-week biotechnology research program at UC Berkeley that is sponsored by Amgen Inc. I plan to use x-ray crystallography and enzyme biochemistry to study the biological activity of topoisomerases, which are enzymes that have a crucial function in controlling the topology of circular DNA molecules.”
About the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program
In 2010, Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,111 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred fifty-six of the Scholars are men, 122 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Seventeen Scholars are mathematics majors, 199 are science and related majors, 53 are majoring in engineering, and 9 are computer science majors. Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines.
Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious postgraduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships, 105 Marshall Awards, 90 Churchill Scholarships (9 of the 14 awarded in the United States in 2010), and numerous other distinguished fellowships.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was authorized by the United States Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The creation of this program pays tribute to the leadership, courage, and vision of Senator Goldwater and establishes in his name an endowed recognition program to foster and encourage excellence in science and mathematics.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.