AMHERST, Mass. – Gregory Su, of Westport, Mass., a junior chemical engineering major and Commonwealth College student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has won a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. He is one of just 278 students in the nation to win the award for the 2009-10 academic year.
Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit, and are students who intend to pursue careers in science, mathematics or engineering. This year, 1,097 students were nominated for the award from colleges and universities nationwide. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 a year.
For the past two years, Su has worked with Alfred Crosby, professor of polymer science and engineering. Recently, he has been researching the effects of nanoparticles on polymer interfaces, specifically in terms of adhesion. The work could lead to the development of stronger materials with advanced functionality.
For Su, interest in chemistry is something of a family tradition: his father is a longtime faculty member in chemistry at UMass Dartmouth and his sister was a chemistry major at UMass Amherst. Like Su, his sister worked for Alfred Crosby.
“I plan to go to graduate school,” said Su. “I definitely want to do research, either in industry or academia.”
Recently, Su was part of a student team that developed a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car. The team was among the top finishers in the ChemE Car Competition held last month during a regional student meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering. The team is headed to the national competition next fall.
“Greg has had a prolific career thus far and there is every reason to expect that his record of achievement will continue to excel through his grad school years and into his career as a scientist,” said Susan K. Whitbourne, professor of psychology and director of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at UMass Amherst.
UMass Amherst submitted four student applications for the Goldwater Scholarships, according to Whitbourne. Each nominee was required to submit an application, an essay describing academic and career plans and three references. Selection by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was based on the application materials. Along with Su, another UMass Amherst student, Marissa McGarry, earned honorable mention from the foundation.
“ONSA was definitely helpful,” said Su. “Professor Whitbourne reviewed my research proposal and application and advised me on ways to improve them.”
Since the Goldwater Foundation was established in 1986, it has awarded 5,081 scholarships worth about $56 million. Goldwater Scholars have gone on to be awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships, 102 Marshall Awards and other prestigious fellowships.