Two College of Science students net Goldwater Scholarships

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 17, 2005 – Two students from Virginia Tech’s College of Science have been awarded the highly competitive Barry M. Goldwater scholarships for the 2005-2006 academic year.

David Erickson, a junior majoring in physics and math, plans to pursue a Ph.D. and ultimately conduct research and teach at the university level. Sarah Koss, a sophomore with a triple major of biology, psychology, and studio art, plans to pursue a combined M.D./Ph.D. program in the field of neuropathology.

Goldwater scholars are selected for academic merit and each is awarded up to $7,500 per year for tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Congress established the scholarship program in 1986 to honor the late Sen. Goldwater and to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

Erickson and Koss are among 320 Goldwater scholars chosen this year from an applicant field of 1,091 undergraduates in engineering, science, and mathematics.

Erickson, the son of Mark and Michelle Erickson of Hampton, Va., attended Kecoughtan High School and plans to graduate from Virginia Tech in May 2006. Erickson’s goal is to prepare for a research career in condensed matter theory.

Erickson was part of a research team at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, Va., the summer after his freshman year of college. At Virginia Tech, he has been involved in condensed matter theory research on non-equilibrium systems.

“With a razor sharp mind and an easy going style, David’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge will carry him very far,” said Royce Zia, professor and chair of the physics department.

Erickson is a member of the University Honors Program, is active is the Society of Physics Students, and holds several other scholarships in addition to the Goldwater, including the David and Ruth Henderson, Hatcher, and Daniel C. and Delia F. Grant scholarships. He is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Phi Sigma Theta National Honor Society.

Koss, the daughter of George and Carol Koss of Salem, Va., attended Salem High School and plans to graduate from Virginia Tech in May 2007.

After completing a combined M.D/Ph.D. program, Koss plans to engage in neuropathology research that focuses on central nervous system disorders.

"When others see limits, Sarah sees temporary road blocks begging for creative solutions," said Arthur Buikema, Alumni Distinguished Professor of biology. "The capabilities of this young woman are without limits, and there is no question in my mind that she will achieve preeminence in her chosen field."

Koss was part of a summer internship in the neuropathology laboratory at the University of Virginia where she assisted a team working on brain glial cell plasticity. For the past year, she has conducted research at Virginia Tech’s Harvey W. Peters Center, investigating the interactions of a specific molecule and enzyme found in the brain.

Koss is a member of Virginia Tech’s Hillcrest Honors Community and founded the student club Panoptic Paradigm, which seeks to integrate science and the arts. She holds several other scholarships, including the 2004 College of Science Roundtable, 2004 College of Science Dean’s, Virginia Tech Scholars, and Virginia Tech Alumni scholarships. She is a member of the Virginia Tech Honor Court and has had her work featured in the Brush Mountain Review, the university’s literary magazine, and Silhouette, the university’s fine arts publication.

The College of Science at Virginia Tech gives students a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members teach courses and conduct research in biology, chemistry, economics, geosciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, and statistics. The college is dedicated to fostering a research intensive environment and offers programs in nano-scale and biological sciences, information theory and science, and supports research centers—in areas such as biomedical and public health sciences, and critical technology and applied science—that encompass other colleges at the university. The College of Science also houses programs in pre-medicine and scientific law.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.