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Two Connecticut College students win Goldwater Scholarships

Christopher Krupenye ´11 (top, with an orphaned chimpanzee at the Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon) and Kelsey Taylor ´11 (bottom, in the Bioorganic Lab in Hale Laboratory) have been named 2010 Goldwater Scholars.
Christopher Krupenye ´11 (top, with an orphaned chimpanzee at the Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon) and Kelsey Taylor ´11 (bottom, in the Bioorganic Lab in Hale Laboratory) have been named 2010 Goldwater Scholars.

Two Connecticut College students, Christopher Krupenye ´11 and Kelsey Taylor ´11, have received The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. This is the first time two Connecticut College students have received the honor in the same year.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, authorized by the United States Congress in 1986 in honor of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in science, mathematics or engineering. Krupenye and Taylor were selected on the basis of academic merit from 1,111 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

As 2010 Goldwater Scholars, Krupenye and Taylor will each receive a one-year scholarship of up to $7,500. Last year, Laura Frawley ´10 was named a 2009 Goldwater Scholar and Andrew Margenot ´10 was recognized with an honorable mention.

Christopher Krupenye ´11

A biological sciences major from Patterson, N.Y., Krupenye was nominated for the award by faculty in the Biology Department and the college´s Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment, in which he is a scholar. "They were particularly enthusiastic about his wide range of interests, his work ethic, hustle and desire to work with primates," Chemistry Professor Marc Zimmer, the college´s Goldwater faculty representative, said.

Krupenye, who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biological anthropology, hopes to conduct field research on African apes and teach at the university level. While at Connecticut College, Krupenye has completed internships in Cameroon and at Yale University, and is currently studying abroad in Madagascar and Uganda. During the month of April, Krupenye is completing a lemur cognitive study in Madagascar´s Ranomafana National Park.

"I have grown tremendously as an individual and as a scientist at Connecticut College," Krupenye said. "My professors, whom I respect as scholars and cherish as friends, have expanded my understanding not only of the facts, but, more importantly, of questions - when I learn of a new discovery, I immediately want to know how it was made and what new doors it has opened up for future exploration."

Zimmer says Krupenye is an ideal student of the liberal arts who has strong support from faculty in many different departments. For example, Religious Studies Professor Sufia Uddin calls Krupenye "a fantastic student," while French Professor Catherine Spencer says he is a "remarkable young man, already very mature, generous and dedicated." "It is rare to find students who can manage their courses, volunteer work and extra-curricular activities on campus so well," Uddin said. "He came to the college with a plan, and he continues to work very hard toward achieving his goals."

Kelsey Taylor ´11

A biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology major from East Hampton, Conn., Taylor was nominated by the faculty in the Chemistry Department for her excellent academic work, laboratory research and service to the department. Taylor plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biochemistry and is interested in studying the development of the brain and conducting translational research on neurological disorders such as Alzheimer´s disease, schizophrenia and Parkinson´s disease. "I also aspire to teach at the university level where I could motivate younger generations, particularly women, to pursue science careers," she said.

Zimmer said Taylor has the intellectual ability, lab skills and work ethic to achieve all of her dreams. "She obtains excellent grades while doing research, community service and participating in athletics," he said. Since her freshman year, Taylor has been a member of Chemistry Professor Bruce Branchini´s Bioluminescence Research Group, which investigates the biochemistry leading to the emission of light by the firefly. She has also worked at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., using x-ray crystallography to study the crystal structure of luciferase mutants, and traveled with Branchini to the University of Bologna in Italy to learn about the collaborative research being done there with mice imaging studies.

In the fall, Taylor completed an independent study to begin a new project focusing on the development of fusion proteins of luciferase and a red fluorescent protein that can be developed into practical assays for biological proteases. She will present her research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Montana later this month.

"I have had amazing professors who have both challenged and inspired me," Taylor said. "The opportunities I have had to conduct research as an undergraduate will be indispensable to my future success in science."

Branchini says Taylor has the "entire package of intelligence, ability, motivation, character and potential." He adds, "It is noteworthy that her achievements in research have come in the context of a very busy college life."

Outside of the classroom and the lab, Taylor is a varsity athlete on the cross country team and the indoor and outdoor track and field teams, a chemistry tutor, a member of the Chemistry Advisory Board and a build coordinator with Connecticut College´s chapter of Habitat for Humanity, planning local builds and taking part in a recent spring break service trip. Taylor´s accomplishments on the track are impressive. She was a member of the 4x800 meter relay team that broke the Connecticut College record last spring and has earned All-New England Division III honors in that event twice. She has also earned NESCAC All-Academic Team honors and has been elected by her teammates to serve as co-captain of the cross country team next fall.

"Kelsey is absolutely a great leader and I count on her, respect her and trust her completely," her coach, Ned Bishop, said.

April 9, 2010