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Chemistry major receives prestigious Goldwater Scholarship


Matt Hodson, University News Service,, (612) 625-0552

Rhonda Zurn, College of Science and Engineering,, (612) 626-7959

Sally Lieberman, University Honors Program,, (612) 624-5522

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/29/2012) — Three University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering undergraduates have been named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The prestigious Goldwater Scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors in mathematics, science and engineering who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 per year for up to two years of undergraduate study.

All of the Goldwater Scholars are enrolled in the University Honors Program.

The three College of Science and Engineering students receiving the honor are:

Mark Strom, a junior chemistry major in the College of Science and Engineering, plans to pursue a combined M.D. and Ph.D. in cell biology with the purpose of conducting research on stem cells as a faculty member at a medical school. Under the direction of professor Atsushi Asakura, Strom has investigated molecular mechanisms behind muscle stem cell self-renewal with the hope of eventually applying these findings toward treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. His undergraduate research adviser is Chemistry Professor Mark Distefano. Strom spent the summer or 2011 conducting research at Syracuse University, working in the bioorganic chemistry laboratory of professor Yan-Yeung Luk on the organic synthesis and biological testing of novel bacterial biofilm inhibitors. Strom is a Presidential Scholar, a Minnesota Gold Scholar, a CSE Merit Scholar, a Robert C. Byrd Scholar and a Thomas J. Watson Memorial Scholar, and he has been recognized with the Prentice Hall Organize Chemistry Book Prize, the Merck Index Award, a pair of Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grants and a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates grant. A teaching assistant in the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program, Strom is also a longtime Habitat for Humanity volunteer.

Paul David Carlson, a junior majoring in chemical engineering in the College of Science and Engineering, plans to pursue a combined M.D. and Ph.D. in chemical engineering and specialize in cardiovascular tissue engineering. Carlson is a named contributor in a publication from the biomedical engineering laboratory of professor Robert Tranquillo, under whose guidance he has researched the creation of aligned, perfusable microvascular networks within fibrin-based tissue that can be used to repair damage to the human heart from cardiac infarction. Carlson has also given several poster presentations on his work. He spent summer 2011 as a Chemical Engineering Formulation intern at Eastman Kodak Co. in Rochester, New York, working on the reformulation of products in the Thermal Printing Platform. A National Merit Scholar, a Presidential Scholar, a Minnesota Gold Scholar and recipient of the Monroe Professional Engineers Society and SIG Hagen scholarships, Carlson has been recognized by the American Chemical Society and awarded two Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grants. In his spare time, he tutors chemistry students at the U of M and volunteers at Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

Chung-Yun (George) Chao is a junior pursuing a double major in genetics, cell biology and development in the College of Biological Sciences and computer science in the College of Science and Engineering. Following his undergraduate studies, he plans to pursue a doctorate in bioinformatics and possibly an M.D. with a future specialty in internal medicine. Chao aspires to a research career at the intersection of genetics and computer science that will lead to new medical treatments. Working under the guidance of professor Chad Myers, he has researched mapping gene interaction networks in yeast and has extended these studies into an interaction network of human genes to predict possible protein interactions in humans. Chao is also involved in research on protein pathways in Drosophila under the direction of professor Thomas Neufeld, and under professor Daniel Keefe, he has explored the creation of a data generation system for analyzing movements of the spine. He has presented his work on several occasions, including a recent TEDxUMN talk, and is involved in leading the U of M’s team for the 2012 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Competition. Chao is a Presidential Scholar, a Monica Tsang and James Weatherbee Merit Scholar in Biology, a Genetics, Cell Biology and Development Scholar and the recipient of an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grant. A competitive ballroom dancer, Chao has won dozens of awards and mentions in local, regional and national competitions.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. This year, less than 300 scholars were selected nationwide from a field of more than 1,100 students who were nominated by their colleges and universities. Each institution many nominate up to four students.

A total of 51 University of Minnesota, Twin Cities undergraduates have been Goldwater Scholars since the program’s inception in 1986.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities students who are interested in applying for the scholarship in the future may consult the Office for National and International Scholarships by visiting

For more information on the Goldwater Scholarship, visit