Four UD students awarded Goldwater Scholarships
Amanda Lee Welch
Michael G. Napolitano
Patrick Robert Devlin
Mark Clayton Weidman


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9:42 a.m., April 21, 2010----Four University of Delaware students -- Amanda Lee Welch, a junior animal science major, Michael G. Napolitano, a senior biochemistry major, Patrick Robert Devlin, a senior mathematical sciences major, and Mark Clayton Weidman, a senior chemical engineering major --have been awarded scholarships by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

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The scholarship program, honoring the late U.S. Sen. Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

The Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields, covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to $7,500 per year.

This marks the first time that all four University of Delaware nominees have received the award.

According to the Goldwater Foundation press release, the four University of Delaware students were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,111 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

Amanda Lee Welch

Welch said she was “very surprised, excited and flattered” when she found out she won the award.

“I realize there are not many of these scholarships given out and I feel very honored,” she said. “I heard all four UD nominees received the award this year and that makes me feel very proud of my University.”

Welch said she plans to attend a research-based veterinary school to pursue a combined doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) and Ph.D. degree to explore disease etiology for biomedical applications.

As to those who helped her along the way to attaining the Goldwater Scholarship, Welch said, “I have to thank my research mentor Dr. Bob Dyer (associate professor in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences) for being a wonderful teacher and furthering my interests and experiences in research and scientific exploration, and for assisting me with the Goldwater application.”

Welch also cited Sue Serra, coordinator in the Office of Service Learning who “played a huge role in helping me decipher my discontinuous thoughts about my future into a coherent idea of my graduate school and career plans and I thank her greatly for the assistance.”

Michael G. Napolitano

Napolitano, a student in UD's Honors Program, said he was thrilled to learn he had earned a Goldwater scholarship. His plans for the future include “graduate school in biology and biochemistry, with a focus on evolutionary biology.”

Napolitano credited many people at the University of Delaware for helping him achieve such a prestigious national honor.

“My advisers, E. Fidelma Boyd (assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences) and Melinda Duncan (professor in the department), gave me invaluable advice both in my research and in drafting the application for the scholarship. The entire Boyd laboratory, and in particular Salvador Almagro-Moreno, also provided advice and support during my work for this scholarship.”

Napolitano also cited Serra for her assistance in the application process, saying “her experience in these applications was of great value.”

Other professors noted by the scholarship recipient were, from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Harold White, professor, Susan Groh, assistant professor, Burnaby Munson, C. Eugene Bennett Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Douglass Taber, professor, and, from the Department of Biological Sciences, John McDonald, associate professor, and David Usher, professor.

Patrick Robert Devlin

Devlin said he was “very excited to find that I had been selected for the award” and “surprised to find that all of the applicants from the University were selected, which is of course a testament to the quality of the Undergraduate Research Program and the faculty and staff involved in the application process.”

Devlin, an Honors Program student who will be getting married in December, said he plans to graduate from the University of Delaware after the next fall or spring semester. He and his wife both plan on going to graduate school and he plans “to receive my doctorate in mathematics and become a professor. I am excited for the research and to be paid to do what I love, but I expect that I will also enjoy teaching very much.”

With regard to the faculty and staff who helped him win the Goldwater scholarship, Devlin said, “First, I need to acknowledge Prof. Wenbo Li of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. He has been my mentor throughout my research experience, and he was the first to suggest that I consider applying for the award. I would not have even been in a position to apply without him.”

Devlin also acknowledged the contributions of Serra, who “helped me tremendously in improving the quality of my essay and application. It is not an understatement that it is because of her that I was accepted for the award.”

He also cited John Pelesko, associate professor of mathematical sciences, “for helping me edit and revise the mathematical content of my application.”

Mark Clayton Weidman

Weidman said he found out that he had won the award via a text message from his mother while he was on spring break in New Orleans.

“I was very excited and felt honored to be chosen for the scholarship,” he said. “I felt grateful to all the people who had supported me and encouraged me at UD and, of course, to my family.”

Weidman, an Honors Program student, plans on completing an internship in industry during the summer before moving on to continue his undergraduate research on fuel cell catalysis during his senior year.

Upon finishing his undergraduate study, Weidman plans on attending graduate school to earn his doctorate in the field of alternative energy technology, and he hopes to eventually lead a research group in either industry or academia to “find effective, abundant, and reliable catalysts for fuel cell technologies.”

Weidman credits his supervisor Jingguang Chen, Claire D. LeClaire Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Daniel Esposito, a graduate student, for helping him receive the Goldwater scholarship.

“Jingguang Chen of the Department of Chemical Engineering has been instrumental in my undergraduate research career,” Weidman said. “Joining his research group has given me the opportunity and resources to perform my research while giving me the independence to design my own experiments. He has always encouraged me to present my findings at conferences and supported my goals. I also owe a great deal of credit to Daniel Esposito, a graduate student who has guided my work in the lab and helped me develop as a researcher.”

Article by Adam Thomas
Photos by Evan Krape