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MU Students Honored by Goldwater Scholarship Foundation

Prestigious award is based on academic merit, research

April 28th, 2011

Story Contact: MU News Bureau, 573-882-6211, munewsbureau@missouri.edu

By Brad Fischer

COLUMBIA, Mo. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has named a University of Missouri student as a 2011 Goldwater Scholar. Amanda Prasuhn was nominated by MU faculty members and selected by the foundation based on academic merit.

Amanda Prasuhn, a junior from Kirkwood, Mo. majoring in biological sciences, was named a 2011 Goldwater Scholar.

“The Goldwater Scholarship recognizes top undergraduate students who plan to pursue careers in math, science or engineering,” said Theodore A. Tarkow, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science. “This award shows that MU is a place where ambitious students can succeed on a high level.”

Prasuhn is a junior from Kirkwood, Mo. majoring in biological sciences. She has participated in the Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, where she examined the DNA of African elephants. Currently, the African elephant is classified as a single species; however, Prasuhn and other researchers have found data indicating that there should be two separate species. Classifying them as distinctly separate species will allow conservation managers to better protect them from extinction by applying tailored conservation management plans based on habitat, geographic location, diet, social structure, genetics, and other factors. As part of her Goldwater Scholarship application, Prasuhn proposed to continue her research on African elephants by studying their evolution.

Nikolas Wilkinson, a MU senior majoring in biological engineering from San Antonio, received an honorable mention from the Goldwater Foundation.

“It feels great knowing that the Goldwater Scholarship Program recognizes my hard work and finds my research to be important, exciting, and worthwhile,” Prasuhn said. “I feel very fortunate that I was chosen to receive this scholarship and know that being a Goldwater Scholar will lead me to many opportunities in the future.”

Prasuhn is president of the MU chapter of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society, a member of Griffiths Leadership Society for Women and a member of Alpha Chi Sigma Professional Chemistry Fraternity.  Last summer, Prasuhn participated in the Amgen Scholars Summer Research Program at the University of California-Berkeley to expand her experience. Following graduation, Prasuhn plans to continue her education before pursuing a career in science and conservation.

Nikolas Wilkinson, a MU senior majoring in biological engineering from San Antonio, received an honorable mention from the Goldwater Foundation. Wilkinson carries a 3.989 grade point average and has worked in undergraduate research for two semesters. He is second author on two papers and the primary author on a paper in review. Following graduation, Wilkinson plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemical engineering.

The Goldwater Scholarship program was designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. It was established by the United States Congress in 1986 to honor former senator Barry Goldwater, a republican from Arizona. Nationwide, 275 students received the award this year.

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