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Posted 04.24.06

MU Sophomore Receives Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Since it was established 18 years ago, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has awarded 4,885 scholarships totaling approximately $48 million to the brightest math, science and engineering undergraduate students in the United States. This year, Ashley Acevedo, a biochemistry major at the University of Missouri-Columbia, was chosen from among 1,081 college sophomores and juniors to receive the award.

Goldwater Scholars from science, engineering and computer-related disciplines are nominated by the faculty of their respective colleges and universities for their impressive academic performance. Each student receives a one or two-year scholarship of up to $7,500 per year to cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, and room and board. In addition, many Goldwater recipients also are awarded national post-graduate fellowships such as the Rhodes Scholarship and Marshall Award.

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Acevedo, a sophomore from Oklahoma, is an undergraduate researcher mentored by William Folk, professor of biochemistry. In Folk's lab, students are developing ways to enhance the nutritional value of staple crops, such as rice, corn and sorghum, by increasing the amount of essential amino acids. Acevedo is investigating whether plants have a multisynthetase complex, a group of specialized RNA enzymes and auxiliary proteins that could play an important role in the nutritional enhancement of these crops.

"To me, receiving the Goldwater is recognition of all the hard work I've done to help get me to where I am," Acevedo said. "At the same time, I feel a great deal of appreciation for the people who have supported me along the way."

Acevedo is working with Folk through MU's Exposure to Research for Science Students (EXPRESS) program funded by the National Institutes of Health. This program is designed to provide freshmen and sophomore minority students better access to science doctoral programs. Acevedo will use her Goldwater Scholarship to help her obtain a doctorate in biochemistry from Stanford University. In the future, she hopes to work in academia as a tenured professor at a top-tier university.

Joni R. Bramon, a Missouri native and biology major attending Columbia College, also received a Goldwater Scholarship. Bramon participated in the MU Summer Program in Chemistry in 2005 and was mentored by J. David Robertson, MU professor of chemistry.



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