UNT student earns Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship

Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - 16:44

DENTON (UNT), Texas — University of North Texas senior Clifford Morrison, of Hughes Springs, has received a $5,000 Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship for his first year of graduate school. Morrison is one of eight students from Texas colleges and universities to win a fellowship this year.

Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest, largest, and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. To be eligible for membership, juniors must rank academically in the top 7.5 percent of their graduating classes, while seniors and graduate students must rank in the top 10 percent. Chapters may make the membership criteria more selective. 

The national Phi Kappa Phi office awards approximately 51 fellowships each year to students from active Phi Kappa Phi chapters. Students must be nominated for the fellowships by the scholarship coordinators of their chapters. Selection is based on undergraduate performance; leadership and service on the campus and in the community; evidence of graduate potential; the nominated student's personal statement of educational perspective, purpose and objectives; and the evaluation reports from three individuals about the nominated student's performance, citizenship and character.

The vice president of UNT's Phi Kappa Phi chapter, Morrison is a biochemistry and chemistry major who will receive his two bachelor's degrees from UNT on Aug. 9. He will use his fellowship to pay for his first year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where he will enter a doctoral program in chemical engineering.         

At UNT, Morrison is a student in the Honors College  and in the McNair Scholars Program, which prepares undergraduates for doctoral study by pairing them with faculty mentors for research. Through the McNair program, Morrison has conducted almost three years of research on targeted drug delivery in the human body in the laboratory of Rob Petros, UNT assistant professor of chemistry. Morrison investigated a process for synthesizing a prodrug — an inactive substance that is converted to a drug within the body by the action of enzymes or other chemicals — from the molecule Sunitinib. This prodrug can prevent pancreatic cancer tumors from growing.

Morrison presented papers about his research at UNT's University Scholars Day two years in a row, and a paper and a research poster at two Texas National McNair Scholars Research Conferences, which are held annually at UNT.

He received two scholarships to pay for his education at UNT — the Emerald Eagle Scholarship and the Terry Scholarship. Both scholarships are given to graduating high school students with high academic honors and leadership potential, and need high financial need to enroll at UNT.

Morrison served as president of UNT's Terry Scholars, chair of the Honors College's Honors Council and president of UNT's chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemistry fraternity. He received the Honors College's Frank W. Feigert Award for Outstanding First-Year Student in spring 2011 and, more recently, the J.L. Carrico Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Senior Chemistry Major and the David B. Kesterson Award for Outstanding Honors College Student. He also received a graduate fellowship from Rensselaer. A 2010 graduate of Hughes Springs High School, Morrison is the son of Renee Morrison of Hughes Springs.

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