A sophomore honors student in biological sciences and biochemistry at Virginia Tech has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship for the 2010-11 academic year.
Brittany Gianetti of Oneida, N.Y., was one of only 278 recipients of the prestigious national scholarship. She is the daughter of Kenneth and Margaret Gianetti.
Gianetti holds a 4.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and is ranked within the top students of her class in the College of Science. For the past year, she has been involved in undergraduate research in under the tutelage of Steven Melville, associate professor of microbiology. Gianetti's ongoing research is to better understand the behavior Clostridium perfringes, a bacterium that causes a deadly form of gangrene.
"Brittany is an extremely intelligent, enthusiastic, and hard-working student," Melville said. "She has already exceeded my expectations, and her work thus far has shown that she can truly excel as a scientist."
Prior to entering Virginia Tech, Gianetti assisted with research at the Colgate Summer Science Academy and the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory. As a first-year student, Gianetti was a member of the university’s biological Life Sciences Learning Community, a first-year residential/academic honors program.
"Brittany takes full advantage of every new learning opportunity," said Jill Sible, associate dean for curriculum, instruction, and advising. "She is clearly ambitious and determined, and at the same time, extremely friendly and polite."
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.
"I was extremely excited when I received the news about the Goldwater Scholarship," Gianetti said. "It is a great honor that would not have been possible without the support and help of my mentors and this institution."
Gianetti says she plans to pursue a doctoral degree in biochemistry and infectious diseases. In addition to her advanced studies, she is active in Oxfam and the Pilot Street Project, an organization that provides a variety of programs for Somali refugees in Roanoke, Va. Among her other accolades are the Deborah Ayers Koller Endowment, the university’s Presidential Campus Enrichment Grant, and the Xerox Award for Innovation and Technology.
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.