Two UNT students named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars; third student receives honorable mention
DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Two students in the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas were named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars, and a third academy student received an honorable mention in the prestigious research competition.
Goldwaters are considered to be among the country's most prestigious scholarships awarded to students planning careers in mathematics, science and engineering. All college sophomores and juniors are eligible to compete for the scholarships, which provide a maximum of $7,500 each year for one or two years to cover tuition, fees, books and room and board.
Favyen Bastani, of Plano, and Amanda Quay, of Austin, were among the 12 Texas students awarded scholarships this year. Mitchell Powell, of Plano, was among the seven Texas students to receive honorable mentions.
All three students are seniors at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a two-year residential program at UNT that allows talented students to complete their freshman and sophomore years of college while earning their high school diplomas. Although the students are technically high school students; they have earned enough college credit to be classified as college sophomores, making them eligible to participate in the Goldwater Scholarship program.
The University of North Texas has had 50 students – including the 2012 winners – win Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships since 1996. Universities may nominate up to four students for the award each year, and students are chosen on the basis of their scientific research, grade point averages and other achievements.
About the scholars
A highly advanced undergraduate computer scientist, Bastani has worked extensively in two major research environments and has a co-authored an article (in press) for IEEE Transactions on Services Computing. As attested by Dr. Hui Ma of Cisco Systems --with whom Bastani worked on algorithms to solve complex optimization problems--Bastani is at the forefront of making significant contributions to artificial-intelligence-based heuristic optimization. Bastani has also worked in the UNT Computer Science laboratory of Dr.Yan Huang.
Working in the analytical chemistry group of Dr. William Acree, Quay has co-authored six published studies, with applications, in some cases, that help predict which chemicals will best help decompose pharmaceutical waste in aquatic environments. Quay's research calculates the concentration at which a given drug molecule exhibits toxicity, providing insight into which pharmaceutical compounds pose an environmental risk to aquatic life. Quay's research also helps identify the most efficient way to decompose the most threatening of these compounds.
While planning a career in neurobiology, Powell has demonstrated his research versatility by working in the computational chemistry laboratory of Dr. Angela Wilson to appreciate the foundations of biomedical compounds containing transition metals. Powell autonomously and effectively helped the Wilson research team determine the most accurate DFT (density functional theory) method for transition-metal heat-of-formation calculations by identifying and quantifying ten different candidate DFT methods known to yield reliable results for the energy properties of main-group molecules. There has been limited work in this area for transition metal species. As detailed by Wilson, Powell's research has contributed immensely to protocols for future heats-of-formation-of-transition-metal research.