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Two undergraduates awarded Goldwater scholarships

Two Northeastern students have been named 2010 Goldwater Scholars, an honor bestowed on the nation’s top undergraduates in mathematics, science, and engineering.

Third-year chemistry major Krista Marie Wager and second-year biochemistry major Arti Deepa Tewari received the prestigious scholarships, awarded annually by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to help students advance their careers.

Of the thousands of students across the country nominated annually for Goldwater scholarships, no more than 300 win. The scholarship covers tuition, fees, books and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Wager and Tewari, Northeastern’s fifth and sixth Goldwater recipients, are emblematic of the high caliber of undergraduate researchers attending Northeastern, said Maureen Kelleher, associate sociology professor and director of the Honor’s Program.

“The experiences that these students have, both on campus and through experiential learning opportunities,” Kelleher said, “put them ahead of the curve as they move on to pursue post-graduate degrees.”

While in high school, Wager developed an interest in chemistry, but it wasn’t until she set foot in a lab that she realized how fascinating research could be. Working with Graham Jones, professor and chair of chemistry and chemical biology, Wager investigates the labeling of molecules with radioactive elements, which could lead to earlier detection of diseases, such as prostate cancer.

Wager’s co-op at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and her Merck Undergraduate Research Fellowship, which afforded her the opportunity to conduct DNA research, has cemented her desire to pursue doctoral degrees in organic chemistry and medicine.

“I feel like this award is an affirmation that I am doing the right thing by pursuing a career in research,” she said, adding that she plans to focus on medicinal chemistry and radiochemistry.

Tewari, who spent the summer after her senior year of high school in a lab at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, met David Budil, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology and Tewari’s academic advisor, on her first day at Northeastern.

“I had always been interested in science, so I wanted to expand my skills in a lab as soon as possible,” she said.

Tewari’s research project focuses on the development of a nontoxic fuel cell. Such fuel cells, which produce energy through a series of chemical reactions, can be used to power internal medical devices, such as pacemakers.

After graduating from Northeastern, Tewari will pursue a PhD and a medical degree, with a focus on oncology. She hopes to practice medicine and teach at a medical school.

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