Posted on Mar 25, 2005

David Olson and Fatima Mahmood

Two juniors with long records of undergraduate research – Fatima Mahmood and David Olson – have been named Barry M. Goldwater Scholars, a prestigious prize that provides up to $7,500 per year to undergraduates who are destined for doctoral study.

Their selection brings to six the number of Union students to be so honored since 2002. Other recent recipients are Shira Mandel '05, Mark Hoffman '03, Desiree Plata '03, and Will Johnson '02.

“This is really the type of award that helps not just the winners, but all of our students,” said Prof. Ann Anderson, who recruits and advises the campus Goldwater nominees. “This puts our programs on the radars of the best graduate schools and it makes Union an appealing choice for top high school students.

“Fatima and David were strong candidates for the Goldwater because of their significant undergraduate research experience,” Anderson added.

Mahmood, a math and physics double major, recently won the award for best undergraduate paper at a conference of the New York State Section of the American Physical Society. She presented a research project titled “Neutral Meson Analysis of Photoproduction from the Proton,” which she did with Prof. Michael Vineyard of physics.

The Clifton Park native is a 2002 graduate of Shenendehowa High School. At Union, she is a dean's list student and William Golub Presidential Scholar. She also presented her research last spring at Union's Steinmetz Symposium, an exposition of student scholarly and creative achievement.

After Union, she would like earn a Ph.D. in mathematics or physics and then conduct her own research as a college professor and inspire students to study science and math.

Olson, a biochemistry major, is a 2002 graduate of Mohawk (N.Y.) High School. He was a member of the 15-student contingent from Union that attended the 229th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Diego earlier this month.

He has conducted research with Prof. Joanne Kehlbeck of chemistry.

He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in bioorganic chemistry. He is considering research on the design, synthesis and evaluation of novel molecules possessing interesting biological activities.

“It's a prestigious award and it's been nice to have all that comes with it,” said Mandel, last year's winner, who does research in the College's Aerogel Lab under the direction of Anderson and Prof. Mary Carroll. “All that comes with it” includes offers for other scholarships and instant credibility with the nation's top graduate programs, she said.

The Goldwater puts a premium on undergraduate research with possible applications, notes Mandel, a double major in chemistry and mechanical engineering. “They want to see that you've completed research and that it has applications that you've thought about as you do the research.”

The Goldwater Foundation awarded 320 scholarships for the 2005-2006 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. For more information, visit: