Successful Outcomes: Research enriches the undergraduate experience at UAlbany

Laura L. Fredriksen
University at Albany sophomore Laura L. Fredriksen has won a competitive Goldwater Scholarship, effective for the 2006-2007 academic year. The Goldwater award, which provides $7,500 per year for undergraduate study, was established by Congress in 1986 as a way of encouraging exceptional students to pursue careers in mathematics, science, and engineering. Scholarships are awarded on academic merit. Fredriksen, a chemistry major, plans to pursue a career in biochemistry.

Professor Alain E. Kaloyeros, vice president of the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering and the UAlbany Faculty Representative for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship said, "This exciting announcement caps yet another successful year for UAlbany within the national competition for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship program. It also provides further testimony to the high academic caliber and excellent scholarly quality of UAlbany's undergraduate science students. I congratulate Ms. Fredriksen and her advisor, Professor Lednev, on such a well-deserved honor and thank the UAlbany faculty nomination committee for its hard work and deep commitment to the advancement of the university's educational and research missions."

"Winning this scholarship has motivated me even further to study hard and to work hard in my research class." Fredriksen said. "It is invigorating to hear that someone appreciates how badly I want to study science and how hard I've worked to get to where I am today."

Fredriksen, from Center Moriches, Long Island, has worked in UAlbany assistant professor of chemistry Igor Lednev's lab for three consecutive semesters on an investigation of the mechanism of amyloid fibril formations, which may be associated with neurodegenerative diseases linked with aging such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, as well as Lou Gehrig's disease and diabetes. Specifically, her research focuses on characterizing protein structural rearrangements using absorption and fluorescence spectroscopies. According to Lednev, her research constituted a valuable contribution to his group's recent publication in Biopolymers. Laura reported the most recent results at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Atlanta in March 2006.

"It is very satisfying for me to see such a prestigious recognition of Laura's achievements," said Lednev. "As a rule, the best students, most successful in classes, are interested in undergraduate research. We specifically target these students with a challenging undergraduate research program, providing the opportunity for them to be exposed to an academic research environment and to apply and solidify their academic knowledge obtained in classes."

Fredriksen's was one of 323 scholarships awarded to sophomores and juniors from a highly competitive field of 1,081 nominated students studying mathematics, science, and engineering from across the U.S. and its territories.

In addition Fredriksen's award, biology major Heather Miller, working under Professor Caro-Beth Stewart, and Robert Tracey, an atmospheric science, math, and economics major studying with Professor Michael Landin, received Goldwater honorable mentions.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. In its 18-year history, the Foundation has awarded 4,885 scholarships worth approximately $48 million. The trustees plan to award some 300 scholarships for the 2007-2008 academic year.