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UAlbany's Edgardo Sosa Wins Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

by Carol Olechowski (May 5, 2005)

Edgardo Sosa

Edgardo Sosa

UAlbany junior Edgardo Sosa says his selection as a Goldwater Scholar is "a dream come true."

"I never really considered something like this happening to me, but it's a dream come true for my family and me. It gives me hope and confidence that I can continue to accomplish my goals in the future, especially in science," says Sosa, whose parents immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic.

Sosa was one of 320 undergraduates nationally to receive Goldwater Scholarships for 2005-06. The scholarships were presented to sophomores and juniors from a highly competitive field of 1,091 students studying mathematics, science, and engineering across the U.S. and in its territories.

A double major in biochemistry-molecular biology and anthropology, Sosa, 25, has a 3.85 grade point average. He hopes to be accepted to a combined M.D./Ph.D. program to research disease mechanisms and also earn a doctorate in evolutionary biology. He came to UAlbany after serving five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and studying one year at Hudson Valley Community College.

Sosa says he enrolled at UAlbany "because it was the best fit for me, primarily based on cost and location. However, I knew that I'd also have the means to accomplish my goals, and a wide range of academic and research opportunities, at the University." Those opportunities, particularly to do research, broadened his interests.

Working in the lab of Associate Professor of Biology Caro-Beth Stewart, along with his other advisers, graduate students Sara Seepo and Jason de Koning, Sosa explains that he is exploring "the molecular basis for adaptive evolution in complex organisms by using primates as the comparative system.

"Currently, we are trying to understand why some primate species are resistant to SIV/HIV and AIDS, while others are susceptible. For my project, I'm studying the differences in a particular enzyme, caspase-1, across a wide range of primate species. Changes in this enzyme might, in part, be responsible for the varying rates of T-cell death among infected primates, leading to differences in susceptibility to AIDS. This is the research I described in my Goldwater application."

Sosa interned at the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute last summer and has been invited to return this year. "There, we're interested in improving the success of stem cell transplants for malignant diseases," says Sosa.

"I've always been interested in medicine, but my interest in science has now drawn me toward research in evolutionary biology," he explains. "I'd like to practice pathology as a medical specialty. Ideally, I hope to split time doing both throughout my career, probably by working at an academic medical center and research facility."

Congress established the Goldwater award, which provides $7,500 per year for undergraduate study, in 1986 to encourage exceptional students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Scholarships are awarded on academic merit.