Rebecca Sinnott, a junior honors student in the College of Science at Virginia Tech has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship for the 2007-08 academic year.
Sinnott, of Saratoga Springs, NY, is one of only 317 recipients of the prestigious national scholarship. Sinnott is a biochemistry major who is also pursuing a minor in psychology.
This year's Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of more than 1,100 math, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields. The award amount is $7,500 to go toward the cost of the student's education.
Sinnott holds a 3.956 grade point average and is ranked at the top of her class for academics in biochemistry. Her class schedule over the past three years at Virginia Tech has included courses such as advanced calculus, honors biology, biological statistics, genetics, microbiology, and organic chemistry.
"Becky is intellectually one of the brightest undergraduates with whom I have had the pleasure to work, and she is also very talented in the laboratory," said Carla Finkielstein, assistant professor of biological sciences. "She is an honest, intelligent, and imaginative young scientist who is extremely enthusiastic about scientific research."
Sinnott plans to pursue a doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry and hopes to research cancer pathways and neurological diseases. Her ultimate goal is to develop therapeutic drugs and find novel preventive methods to detect and treat diseases at their early stages of development. Since November 2005, she has been conducting research in the area of cell and molecular biology under the tutelage of Finkielstein.
"Becky certainly knows the time commitment that is necessary to produce results in the lab," said Finkielstein, who notes that Sinnott spends approximately 20 hours per week conducting lab research. "She has impressed our faculty with her excellent research presentations and her overall performance when needed to deal with challenging questions."
"To have both the mental capacity to understand the nuances of biochemistry as well as the hands and demeanor to execute experiments is a rare find indeed," said Richard Helm, associate professor of biochemistry. "Becky will be a force to be reckoned with as a graduate student and beyond."
In addition to being a student in Virginia Tech's honors program, Sinnott is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a project leader in Circle K.
The Goldwater foundation is a federally endowed agency established in 1986 to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in math, science and engineering.