The Department of Biological Sciences is pleased to announce that Paul Dewan, Jr, has won the prestigious Goldwater Fellowship for 2022. Dewan, a junior majoring in biological sciences, participates in the department’s Honors program, and conducts research in the lab of Dr. Priya Banerjee, Department of Physics.
Published May 9, 2022
Three students in the College of Arts and Sciences are among a competitive pool of national applicants to receive 2022 Barry Goldwater Scholarship Awards.
Paul Dewan Jr., Krish Patel and Meghan Sullivan were selected to receive the prestigious scholarship that is awarded to sophomores and juniors who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue advanced degrees in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.
The scholarship program was established by Congress in 1986 “to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.” This year, scholarship was awarded to 475 students from among the 1,242 outstanding undergraduates nominated by 433 institutions.
The UB award recipients were recognized at the Celebration of Student Academic Excellence on April 27.
Paul Dewan Jr. is a junior majoring in biological sciences. He says his passion for science began when he discovered “how elegantly scientific observation could describe the world.“ “Physics,” he says, “is a field that inquiries into the inner workings of the universe and even life can be looked at from this way of thinking.”
He plans to obtain a PhD in biophysics to understand how the physics of biological systems are dictated by their genetic design. “In my career, I hope to uncover the physics by which life is able to thrive under seemingly harsh outside environments,” he says.
Dewan works in the lab with his mentor, Priya Banerjee, assistant professor of physics. “It is clear Paul has a keen interest in uncovering the inner workings of biological systems through the lens of physics,” says Banerjee.
“Paul is working diligently on understanding how biological cells utilize the phase transition of protein and nucleic acids to create micron-sized compartments. His research project has the potential to shed light on the fundamental mechanism of the cellular organization through membrane-less compartments,” says Banerjee.
“This award is a true recognition of Paul's hard work and passion for transformative basic science research at the intersection of physics and biology,” he adds.
Dewan is a member of the University Honors College, College Ambassadors, Intercollegiate Athletics Board and Amnesty International. In addition to his Goldwater Scholarship, he is a recipient of the McNair Scholars Program, Provost Scholarship and the Sekula Scholarship.
Krish Patel is a sophomore in the Department of Physics studying physics and astronomy. He aspires to go on to receive a PhD in physics, elucidating physical models and materials implementation to guide innovative solutions that would revolutionize information technology and artificial intelligence.
“As a high-school student, Krish showed a great drive to jointly explore how novel lasers could transform the way we communicate information,” says Igor Zutic, professor of physics. “This was a daunting task, as he had to seek knowledge beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. UB was quick to recognize Krish’s potential and with the Presidential Scholarship secured his recruitment.”
Alongside Zutic, Patel’s work was published in the National Professional Society Journal as an editor’s choice titled “Threshold behavior in spin lasers: Spontaneous emission and nonlinear gain.”
“Winning the award is a recognition of not only my accomplishments so far, but a validation of my potential to be a productive scientist,” Patel says. “[This accomplishment] is both a prestigious recognition that will boost my career heading toward graduate school, and also add more fuel to motivate me along that path.”
Patel is a member of the National Physics Honor Society, UB Students for the Exploration and Development of Space and the University Heights Tool Library volunteer group. In addition to his Goldwater Scholarship, Patel is also the recipient of a UB Presidential Scholarship and NYS Academic Excellence Award.
Meghan Sullivan, a junior studying chemistry, is a contributing author to a research publication in the National Professional Society Journal titled, “Post-synthetic Ligand Exchange in M-MOF-74 Hybrid Materials.”
With her faculty mentor Timothy Cook, associate professor of chemistry, she designs metal-organic frameworks and cages, which are best thought of as molecular sponges. Just like a sponge, they can soak up fluids, but because the cavities are so small, even tiny changes will have a huge effect on such properties as how much fluid they can absorb, or how quickly they become saturated,” Sullivan explains. She adds little molecular hooks to better grab certain molecules, or attach these sponges together to make robust materials. Most importantly, she determines how and why the changes she makes influences the performance of her sponges, and these structure-function relationships are used to design the next-generation of materials for gas separation, water purification, waste remediation and more.
“If you watched Meghan in the lab and were not told she was an undergraduate, you would assume she was among our top PhD students,” says Cook. “She isn’t just gaining experience and learning the ropes; she actively drives her project forward, designing and characterizing new molecules and expertly interpreting data.
“I am confident that she is a rising star that will advance our understanding of molecular self-assembly and materials chemistry because her ascent is already well underway,” he adds.
Sullivan aspires to pursue a PhD in inorganic chemistry and subsequently enter academia as a tenure-track professor of inorganic and materials chemistry.
“Winning this scholarship has been extremely motivating in terms of reaching my research goals and continuing to dream big as I apply for graduate programs,” says Sullivan. “I feel even more confident that I am on the right career path, and being a Goldwater Scholar will undoubtedly bolster my applications for future fellowships and PhD programs.”
Sullivan is a College of Arts and Sciences’ Student Ambassador, a peer note-taker for the Office of Accessibility Resources and a peer reviewer for the Journal of Coordination Chemistry through Taylor and Francis Publishing. A University Honors College Scholar, she has received the Organic Chemistry Award, Entergy Community Power Award.