Three Virginia Tech students have been awarded Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships for the 2015-16 academic year.

The winners include:

  • Donovan Buterakos of Bluefield, Virginia. Major: Physics in the College of Science. He plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2016 and a master’s degree in 2017.
  • Louis “Bobby” Hollingsworth of Springfield, Virginia. Majors: Chemical engineering in the College of Engineering and biochemistry and chemistry in the College of Science. He plans to graduate in 2017
  • Christine Tin of Dale City, Virginia. Major: Biological sciences in the College of Science. She plans to graduate in 2016.

Virginia Tech, along with hundreds of other colleges and universities, are allowed to nominate up to four individuals for the prestigious national award. Out of the more than 1,200 students nominated for the scholarship, the foundation awarded 260 scholarships to students “who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.”

The one or two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Donovan Buterakos

Buterakos, a University Honors student, is interested in string phenomenology, using theoretical models of string theory to make predictions that can be verified by real-world experiments. Currently, he is researching with Lara Anderson, assistant professor of physics, on numeric metrics on Calabi-Yau manifolds.

“Donovan wants to solve things for himself rather than being given the answer and clearly enjoys the process and hard work of puzzling out solutions to difficult problems,” Anderson said. “He is extremely self motivated and unlike many students his age, he is able to take a problem and ‘run with it’ – rather than expecting each step to be laid out for him.”

Buterakos received the Robert P. Hamilton Prize from the Department of Physics in 2014, named in honor of Robert Hamilton who received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in 1974. The prize is award to a student who has exhibited career promise and high scholastic standards.

Buterakos plans to become a faculty member at a high-level research university, allowing him to conduct research while also teaching students.

“Donovan has convinced me over and over again that not only does he have what it takes to succeed in research, this is what he truly wants,” Anderson said.

Louis “Bobby” Hollingsworth

Hollingsworth, a University Honors student, has been active in undergraduate research, both at Virginia Tech and through internships and programs at other institutions. Last summer, he interned at the National Institutes of Health as a research intern in a structural biology lab of the National Cancer Institute. He did additional research with the National Institutes of Health over the winter, with some work continuing this spring. On campus, he works in the lab of Richard Gandour, professor of chemistry, as well as the Chem-E-Car Team and TEK Robotics.

“Mr. Hollingsworth’s performance and grades at university speak for themselves, but they don’t quite do justice to the depth of his abilities.  He is remarkably articulate, analytical, and highly disciplined in terms of the care with which he can see complex projects to completion,” said Sriram Subramaniam, senior investigator and chief of the biophysics section of the Laboratory of Cell Biology at the National Cancer Institute.

Hollingsworth plans to obtain a doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology and then conduct biomedical research at an institute like the National Institutes of Health while mentoring graduate students. He wants to make positive contributions to biomedical sciences and human health, particularly using molecular biochemistry to study cancer and HIV, both of which have impacted him personally through the deaths of family and friends, inspiring him to want to find a cure.

Christine Tin

Tin, a University Honors student, has performed a wealth of undergraduate research on rotavirus under the mentorship of Lijuan Yuan, associate professor of virology at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Specifically, Tin has investigated ways to increase the efficacy of rotavirus vaccines through probiotics. The data she helped collect was included in major research publications from Yuan’s lab. Tin presented her work at the 2014 National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

“She is always willing to go the extra mile to master material,” said Art Buikema, Alumni Distinguished Professor of biological sciences. “To prepare for this scholarship experience, she has been conducting undergraduate research for the 14 months on antibody response to a rotavirus which resulted in two publications. She also spent the past summer as an NIH trainee developing a Luciferase ImmunoPrecipitation Systems (LIPS) assay for profiling antibody responses to norovirus.”

Last year, Tin received the Class of 1956 Ut Prosim Fellowship through the University Honors program. The award honors students with the ability and capacity to make a difference in the world through volunteerism or service. Fellows receive up to $10,000 to cover expenses related to their proposed travel or research experience, designed to enhance their undergraduate experience.

This summer, Tin plans to do research on a novel tick-borne pathogen in Chile in addition to promoting health awareness to children in primary school in Mexico to better understand the impacts of research on society. To learn more about Hispanic culture and customs while working on her Spanish, Tin has spent the spring semester enrolled at the Universidad San Francisco in Ecuador.

Tin plans to obtain a doctorate in virology/immunology and conduct research on viral pathogenesis to advance vaccine design for infectious diseases, particularly those that impact developing countries.

Applying for the Goldwater Scholarship

The Virginia Tech Goldwater Committee is a joint effort with University Honors and the Office of Undergraduate Research. Sophomores and juniors in the STEM fields who are interested in applying for Goldwater are encouraged to attend information sessions in the early fall semester. Virginia Tech’s campus deadline is December 1 and the four nominees are selected in mid-December.  Visit the University Honors’ website to learn more about the Goldwater application process.

Share this story