West Virginia Universitys streak of Goldwater Scholars continues with a sophomore from Wheeling whose passion is environmental science.
Kellen Calinger was one of 317 students awarded the nations premier award in math, science and engineering; Bob Leonard, a junior from Hurricane, received an honorable mention.
Calinger, the only student from a West Virginia college or university to be named a Goldwater Scholar, was selected from a field of 1,110 nominated students.
She brings the total number of WVU students who have been named Goldwater Scholars to 30 since 1989, the first year of the award. Among land-grant universities, WVU is one of the leaders in students being named Goldwater Scholars year after year.
We congratulate Kellen and Bob on their remarkable accomplishments, WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. said.Our studentscontinued success in the Goldwater competition speaks to the quality of educational and research opportunities at the University and high caliber of students attending WVU .
Calingers two-year scholarship, named after former long-time Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to $7,500 per year.
Kellen CalingerGoldwater Scholar
Calinger, 19, is majoring in biology and chemistry at WVU with plans to pursue a doctoral degree in environmental biochemistry.
Although she finds many areas of research science fascinating, including the development of pharmaceutical products, her true passion remains environmental science. She is interested in researching global warming, in particular.
Calinger, a graduate of Mount de Chantal Academy, said her interest in science was sparked at a young age.
In the seventh grade, when I first began studying the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on biomass production in the plant golden pothos, I was genuinely excited to measure the countless tiny roots these plants had produced and then analyze my data to formulate results,she wrote in her Goldwater application.
A year later, her study of the effects of increased carbon dioxide concentrations on carbon sequestration capabilities of the West Virginia forest ecosystem caught the attention of a major university that invited her to do research in Brazil during her college years.
Along the way, she has received a lot of support from her family.
Through the examples of my grandmother and mother, I have been raised to believe that women may achieve whatever they are willing to work for,she said.In the traditionally male-dominated field of science, this belief is crucial.
Her dad, who died when she was 15, also remains an influence.
I hope that I can honor his memory by continuing to pursue research and contributing to the body of knowledge on global warming in an attempt to lessen its effects on humankind and global ecosystems,she said.
Calinger has her eye on a career in climate change research either as a professor at a university or a scientist with a governmental agency.
The 4.0 student took a major step toward her career goal when she met Richard Thomas, a WVU professor of biology who would become one of her faculty mentors, during a campus visit two years ago. He invited her to work on the Duke Forest Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) project.
I couldnt pass up the opportunity to do global warming research,she said,and Im so glad I came to WVU because its definitely the best decision Ive made in my life.
As a freshman, Calinger conducted the projectDoes Fertilization with Nitrogen or Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Affect Microbial Diversity in a Southeastern Conifer Forest?through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience at WVU in conjunction with the FACE project.
Besides research, she is involved with WVU s Honors College, Habitat for Humanity, the National Collegiate Scholars Club, Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Service for Catholic Charities and Mountaineer Maniacs.
Calinger has earned a shelf-full of honors and awards: the WVU Foundation and PROMISE scholarships, National Science and Humanities Symposium Scholarship Award, third place in environmental science at the International Science and Engineering Fair and second place in environmental science at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium.
Winning the Goldwater Scholarship has been a dream come true for the young researcher.
Ive been hearing about it since I was young,she said.It makes me really proud to be recognized for the quality of my work. This is a great stepping stoneIt recognizes that Im really contributing to the body of knowledge on global warming.
Calinger hopes her accomplishments will inspire other women to pursue science as well.
Young women scientists are needed,she said.Biology is a big field for women to go into, and there are so many scholarships available, especially in engineering.
Research opportunities have really opened the doors for me to do everything in life,Calinger added.Its very rewarding. Not only are you discovering something newand the hands-on experience is just really excitingyou also get to help people.
Robert LeonardHonorable Mention
Leonard, 20, graduated from Hurricane High School and maintains a 3.87 grade point average at WVU . He attends the University on the West Virginia PROMISE Scholarship.
The WVU junior is majoring in physics and mathematics, specializing in computational physics.
I enjoy the computational approach,he said.I study physics just because I enjoy it.
In simple terms, he studies how things break, which is known as fracture analysis in physics. It involves looking at how things break on the atomic level.
Leonard hopes to apply this approach to different areas of physics such as quantum hydrodynamics, condensed matter physics or quantum optics.
During his first semester at WVU , he worked under the tutelage of Martina Bachlechner, a WVU physics professor, in the computational materials lab. While working with her, he studied thin film silicon and silicon nitrideinterfaces, which have applications in photovoltaics, a renewable energy source.
Leonard is interested in alternative energy, finding better ways to build more robust solar cells to obtain electricity.
In addition to his research, he has tutored and organized study sessions in math and physics for other WVU students.
I enjoy helping people with calculus,he explained.I usually help students taking Calculus I and II. Id like to teach applied mathematics and physics.
His ultimate goal is to obtain a doctorate in physics and continue doing research as a professor. He wants to teach at a smaller university.
Leonard said he is grateful for the recognition of being named as an honorable mention for this years Goldwater Scholarship.
Ive been told by everybody its a very prestigious thing,he said.I hope it will help me get into a quality graduate school and to obtain a fellowship, so I wont have to worry about teaching classes as a graduate assistant.
Attending WVU was a good choice, Leonard added.
There are a lot of opportunities to do research at WVU ,he said.If you want to do research in the physics department, you can do it. The faculty is always working on research. The professors provide you with everything you need to excel, but you only get what you put in.
Leonard is a member of the WVU Honors College as well as the Sigma Pi Sigma physics honor society. He received a NASA Space Grant Fellowship and was named a NASA Space Grant Scholar.