Alexandru Bacanu, a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, won a 2012 Goldwater Scholarship while Surojit Biswas, also a junior at UNC, received an honorable mention.
The awards go to outstanding college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program of Springfield, Va., recently announced 282 recipients nationwide. Colleges and universities had nominated 1,123 students for the honor.
Congress established the program in 1986 to honor the late Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, who served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. This year’s UNC recipient brings the number of Goldwater Scholars from Carolina to 42 since the first awards were given in 1989.
The scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses. Sophomores receive two years of support; juniors, one year. Scholars are chosen for intellectual curiosity and intensity and potential for significant future contributions in their fields.
Bacanu is a physics and mathematics major from Chapel Hill. He is a Colonel Robinson Scholar, a merit-based scholarship from UNC. He is also a National Merit Scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. His career goals are to earn a doctorate in theoretical and computational physics, conduct research in polymer physics and teach at the university level.
Michael Rubinstein, John P. Barker distinguished professor of chemistry, wrote in a letter of recommendation that Bacanu possesses “great potential to become an excellent scientist.” Bacanu currently conducts research in Rubinstein’s polymer physics laboratory and has developed an original theory to contribute to the field. He also has the distinction of being one of only a handful of undergraduates to present his research at a national meeting.
“I would rank Alexandru Bacanu as one of the best students I have ever encountered during my 15-year career at UNC,” said Rubinstein in his letter. “Through all of my interactions with Alexandru, he has conducted himself with a high level of maturity and demonstrated an outstanding ability, dedication and intellectual curiosity.”
Biswas is a statistics major from Cary. His career goal is to earn his doctorate in computer science or statistics and solve problems in biology and medicine using computational and statistical methods. He was recognized as an outstanding undergraduate research student in chemistry and biological sciences as a part of the 2010-2011 Beckman Scholars Program and is currently a lab research assistant to Jeff Dangl, John N. Couch Distinguished Professor of Biology.