North Texas Daily

TAMS students named Goldwater Scholars

TAMS students named Goldwater Scholars

April 10
21:39 2013

Jennifer Zhang / Intern

After earning nominations from UNT, Texas Academy of Math and Science sophomore Kevin Chen and junior Helen Xiong were two of 271 students nationally to be named Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program.

Founded by Congress in 1996, the scholarship is given annually to students who intend on getting a Ph.D. in either math or science subjects, according to the website.

More than 1,100 students applied for this year’s scholarship. Last year, TAMS had two students who were Goldwater Scholars and one honorable mention.

In order for the two students to be considered for the award, James Duban, the Director for Nationally Competitive Scholarships said Chen and Xiong had to meet certain qualifications.

“One must have performed original research, usually for at least three semesters, maintained a 4.0 GPA in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses, and write personal statements and an essay about their original research,” Duban said.

Xiong said she worked with Witold Brostow, materials science and engineering professor, on improving “the properties of plastics that are often used in structural components.”

“Specifically, I refined the equation that describes the brittleness of plastics, which could increase their overall usefulness in industry,” Xiong said.

Chen said he conducted most of his research at the University of Texas at Dallas and that one of his biggest obstacles about the scholarship was taking complicated material and presenting it simply.

“Dr. Duban, an English professor himself, gave me tremendously helpful advice on tackling this problem, which was certainly critical to winning the Goldwater scholarship,” he said.

Xiong also said Duban was instrumental in her success.

“Dr. Duban was an amazing mentor,” she said. “Through our email exchanges, more than 100 over the course of the summer, he revised my essays and helped me present my thoughts professionally and maturely.”

She said that Duran helped with making “probably one of the more important parts of applying for a scholarship.”

Chen said he and Xiong had to submit an essay and a profile on their research – something Duban “meticulously” reviewed.

Both Xiong and Chen said they plan to use the scholarship money for their college tuition and further research endeavors.

However, despite the monetary rewards, both are more humbled by the honor.

“I’ve always loved learning about science and how the world works,” Xiong said. “Research has allowed me to use my passion and my knowledge to improve people’s quality of life.”

Chen said the scholarship is a representation of values he would like to achieve in  his career in the future.

“When I think of a Goldwater scholar, I am reminded of what the true scientist embodies: a passion for innovation, a fearlessness of failure, and a spirit of unwavering curiosity,”Chen said.

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