APS News

APS Awards Scholarships to Minority Undergrads

The APS has awarded Campaign for Physics-sponsored scholarships for the 1998-1999 academic year to 30 minority students who are majoring, or plan to major, in physics. Since its inception in 1980, the scholarship program has helped more than 225 minority students pursue physics degrees. Each scholarship consists of $2000, which may be renewed once, and which may be used for tuition, room and board.

"We are extremely proud of these scholars and look forward to watching them evolve into productive scientists, as well as outstanding models for the next generation of young minority scholars," said Alexandro DeLozanne, Chair of the APS Committee on Minorities.

Out of nearly 100 applicants, 20 new scholarships and 10 renewal applicants were selected. The new scholars for 1998-1999 are Justin Baca, Andrew Baughns, Jr., Eric Brown, Carl Chan-Aldebol, Kelle Cruz, Edwin Diaz, Sasha Dos Santos, Gary Dwork, Marieke Guillen-Treadway, Philip Jones, Lexyne McNealy, Tami Meverden, Ryan Morfin, Monica O'Neill, Javier Rivera, Marcus Rollins, Felipe Salinas, Jose Sandoval, Hasani Wooten, and Alicia Wright. Students whose scholarships were renewed for 1998-1999 are Danon Price (Emory University), Juan Nieto (Harvard University), Robert Villareal (Southwest Texas State University), Jason Morrow (Harvard University), Edward Little (California Institute of Technology), Elvis Dieguez (University of Miami), Taran Villoch (Ball State University), Seth Guinals-Kupperman (MIT), Joanne Byers (University of Chicago), and Michael Boss (Case Western University).

Several new scholars have participated in summer internships in governmental, industrial or academic research as a means of broadening their science education. For example, Justin Baca, a senior from Albuquerque, NM, with a strong interest in renewable energy sources, interned at Sandia National Laboratories, where he has assisted with the development of a proposal to construct a radiation sensor for landing and orbiting craft for the 2001 Mars mission. He also developed a concept for a radiation shield for a nuclear reactor on Mars, and is currently helping build an experiment to study the effects of neutron radiation on bacteria.

Gary Dwork, a senior from Smithtown, NY, is interning at Brookhaven National Laboratory this summer at the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron, working on alternative theories of gravity to duplicate dark matter. His interest was piqued by a school lecture on electromagnetism by BNL physicist Michael Blaskiewicz, who subsequently hired him as an intern. Chicago-based senior Marieke Guillen-Treadway spent two weeks in the University of Illinois, Chicago's Physics Department, conducting her own research project measuring the thickness of thin films grown on various substrates by graphing the reflectivity of laser light reflected from their surfaces. "I learned a great deal about optics and what it is really like to be engaged in research in a laboratory," she said of the experience.

Hasani Omar Wooten, who just completed his first year at Morehouse College, spent the summer of 1996 as an intern at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, learning the basic methods of cell cultivation and laboratory procedure and studying the effects of cyclosporin on intracellular calcium. For the last two summers, he has been a research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh, where he learned to use Raman scattering techniques to image the complex chemical bonds of polymer fibers. St. Paul senior Marcus Rollins interned at 3M Company's Pharmaceuticals Division last summer. He is especially interested in the company's recent development of the green laser under the spinoff company Imation, and hopes to work for Imation full time following graduation from college.

By far the youngest new scholar is 15-year-old Carl Chan-Aldebol of Westford, MA, who was home-schooled for several years before being admitted to the prestigious Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, a specialized school for high achieving math and science students. During his senior year, he was also enrolled in college courses at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and spent the summer of 1995 as a participant in the Young Scholars Program at MIT's Haystack Observatory - the youngest student ever admitted to the program. His project while there involved an analysis of global warming, calculating the average annual increase in temperature as measured at 28 stations in different climate regions around the world. Chan-Aldebol plans to major in either astrophysics or quantum physics, because "I am fascinated by concepts that seem to contradict common sense, such as quantum interference and Einstein's theory of relativity."

Many scholars cited the writings of Stephen Hawking as an influence on their desire to study physics, but their interests range far beyond the purely scientific and academic. Rollins has five years of martial arts training in karate, kung-fu and aiki-jujutsu. Guillen-Treadway is an accomplished classical cellist who has received superior ratings in music competitions. An accomplished writer, Alicia Wright, who lives in Bethesda, MD, recently wrote a detective story about a young amateur detective who takes on the investigation of her brother's murder for a creative writing project. She is also a member of women's varsity basketball and track teams, despite being diagnosed with dermatomyositis, a disease involving inflammation of the muscles, her freshman year.

The APS scholarship program operates under the auspices of the APS Committee on Minorities, and is supported by funds allocated from the APS Campaign for Physics. Scholarships are awarded to African-American, Hispanic American or Native American students who are high school seniors, college freshmen, or sophomores. The Selection Committee especially encourages applications from students enrolled in institutions with historically or predominantly Black, Hispanic, or Native American enrollment. After being selected, each scholar is matched with an available scholarship, as well as an accomplished physicist to act as a mentor.

For applications for the 1999-2000 competition, please contact Arlene Modeste at modeste@aps.org.



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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin