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Chemical engineering students win Goldwater scholarship, honorable mention

Friday, April 2, 2010

A University of Kansas student has won a 2010 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and a second student received honorable mention in the competition for one of the premier undergraduate awards encouraging excellence in science, engineering and mathematics.

Kevin Changhun Song, a sophomore from Lawrence and Seoul, South Korea, planning a career in biomedical science, is the 48th KU student to receive a Goldwater scholarship since they were first awarded in 1989.
Kevin Changhun Song

Katherine Joann Harry, a junior from Spring Hill who wants to research nanotechnology applications in clean energy, received honorable mention in the national competition.

Song and Harry are chemical engineering majors and are members of the University Honors Program. Their long-range goals include conducting research and teaching at the university level.

“I congratulate Kevin and Katherine on their outstanding achievement in this highly competitive national competition,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

Song’s undergraduate research adviser, Wonpil Im, assistant professor of molecular science, said, “Kevin has shown talent, willingness to work hard and sincere interest in scientific research since he was a high school student. He is deserving of this prestigious award.”

Peggy Goldwater Clay, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, announced March 31 that scholarships for the 2010–11 academic year were awarded to 278 U.S. sophomores and juniors. They were selected from among 1,111 students nominated by their colleges and universities.

Goldwater scholarships cover eligible expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books and room and board, up $7,500 annually.

Song plans to earn a medical degree and a doctoral degree in structural biology, specializing in molecular modeling of proteins. This summer, he has an internship to study membrane biophysics with a National Institutes of Health researcher in Bethesda, Md. In 2009, Song was one of eight undergraduates to receive a research scholarship through the Kansas IDeA (Institutional Development Awards) Network of Biomedical Research Excellence program at KU. In February with a student travel award from the Biophysical Society, Song presented his research on lipid membrane structures using molecular dynamics simulations at the society’s annual meeting in San Francisco.
Katherine Joann Harry

Song entered KU during his senior year at Lawrence Free State High School to work in Im’s lab in KU’s Center for Bioinformatics. As a freshman, he learned the basics of a biomolecular simulation program known as CHARMM (Chemistry at HARvard Molecular Mechanics). Last summer, with Im’s encouragement, Song visited CHARMM researcher Richard Pastor at NIH. A first-generation American, Song is the son of Byung Ho Song and Jeungen Yu, both of Seoul, South Korea. His parents arranged for him to be educated in the United States. He is a Lawrence Free State High School graduate. His U.S. guardians are Sam and Jacque Shipstead of Lawrence.

Harry is preparing for a research and teaching career that will allow her to develop affordable and environmentally sustainable technologies for use in energy, computing or water treatment or a combination of these. She has had three internships with ExxonMobil, working with design engineers and site economists on refinery systems and operations. As a member of KU’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, Harry has volunteered in Guatemala and Mexico, where she observed “first hand the tremendous impact of simple and elegant technology on the developing world.”

Harry was a Summer Scholar for the Center for Materials Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked with Karl Berggren in the Research Laboratory of Electronics with the quantum nanostructures and nanofabrication group. She wrote an abstract based on her research with the group for the 2010 Electron, Ion and Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication Conference and presented her research in a poster session for the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. At KU, Harry worked two years with Susan Williams, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, in researching more efficient catalysts and processes for biodiesel production as part of the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis and Transportation Research Institute. She is the daughter of Joann Paul and Jack Harry and is a graduate of Spring Hill High School.

Congress established the Goldwater program in 1986 in tribute to the retired U.S. senator from Arizona and to ensure a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers. In its 24-year history, the Goldwater foundation has awarded 6,079 scholarships worth approximately $58 million. The trustees plan to award about 300 scholarships for the 2011-12 academic year. Goldwater scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious postgraduate fellowship programs, including 73 Rhodes scholarships, 105 Marshall scholarships, 90 Churchill scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

Only sophomore- and junior-level students with outstanding academic records, significant research experience and high potential for careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering were eligible for nomination. Nominees submitted applications that included essays related to the nominee’s career and faculty recommendations.

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