Two Science Students Named Goldwater Scholars
Rising seniors Alec Lee and Carolyn Turcotte win top award for undergrad STEM students
Alec Lee ’18, an environmental science and policy major from Albany, N.Y., and Carolyn Turcotte ’18, a dual major in biomedical science and chemistry/biochemistry from Hopewell Junction, N.Y., have both been named Goldwater Scholars for 2017.
According to Graduate School and Fellowship Advisor Pat Taylor, the Goldwater is "the premier recognition of undergraduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields who show promise in pursuing further study in these areas." The awards provide winners with $7,500 per year for both their junior and senior years. Alec and Carolyn are two of only 240 students nationwide to be chosen Goldwater Scholars from a pool of 1,286 nominees.
Alec and Carolyn presented substantive evidence of previous research endeavors, as well as plans for their future study, including pursuing doctoral work and, ultimately, careers in research. Both students have conducted sustained research projects here at Marist; Carolyn under the direction of Dr. Paula Checchi, assistant professor of biology, and Alec under Dr. Zofia Gagnon, associate professor of environmental science. This research experience was key to the students' Goldwater success, as were their presentations at academic conferences.
Alec's interests lie in the area of toxicology, specifically with an emphasis on mimicking the biological reactions to toxins of living organisms with the aim of devising systems to contain or nullify those toxic substances. He has participated in several scientific conferences, including those of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, the Eastern Colleges Science Conference, and the American Chemical Society. A member of the Honors Program, his honors project focuses on the construction of a student-run community garden on the Marist campus. He has also served as a resident adviser and as a teaching assistant and tutor in the sciences and mathematics.
Carolyn is completing dual majors in biomedical sciences and chemistry/biochemistry. She plans to pursue a doctorate in molecular biology or biochemistry. Her research interests focus on genetics and mutations at the molecular level, knowledge of which can help develop tools to fight specific diseases. Carolyn has presented her work at different conferences, including that of the Hudson Valley Life Science Group, the American Chemical Society, and the William Paterson Undergraduate Research Symposium. At the latter meeting, she received an award for best poster in field of Cell and Molecular Biology. In addition, at the Allied Genetics Conference in Orlando, FL (2016), Carolyn was one of eight undergraduates out of 150 applicants selected to speak at the undergraduate workshop. Also a member of the Honors Program, she is active in the Marist Commuter Student Council, serves as secretary for the Marist chapter of American Chemical Society club and is a member of Marist's Lesbian Gay Straight Alliance and F.E.M.M.E. She is also a teaching assistant and tutor in developmental biology.