Two Denison Students Win Competitive Goldwater Foundation Scholarships
Posted: April 20, 2005
Two outstanding Denison juniors are recipients of the highly competitive Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program awards. Gregory Mecoli, from Union, Ohio, and Kimberly Murley, from Dalton, Pa., were recently notified that they were among the 320 scholarship winners for 2005. Selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,091 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by college faculty members, the award winners receive either one or two-year scholarships that cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
Mecoli is a biochemistry major and plans to practice medicine while contributing to biomedical research projects related to genetic disease. A 2002 graduate of Miami Valley High School, Dayton, he holds a Mary E. Carr full tuition scholarship at Denison and was inducted into Phi Society (freshman honorary) and Alpha Epsilon Delta (premedical honorary). Mecoli's current extracurricular activities include volunteering with the Nursing Home Companions committee of the Denison Community Association (DCA) and serving as a volunteer in the Licking County Memorial Hospital emergency room.
Mecoli plays with the Bluegrass Ensemble and is a tutor in the chemistry department and works in the department's library. He also has served as secretary and skipper in the Denison Sailing Club. In earlier years, he volunteered with two other committees of the DCA and played with the Denison Orchestra.
An Anderson Summer Research Scholarship winner, Mecoli has been studying the isolation and purification of a rapidly evolving geranium (Pelargonium) RNA Polymerase. RNA Polymerase synthesizes the mRNA indirectly responsible for the production of proteins necessary for photosynthesis. Any significant mutation in plant genes involved in photosynthesis would seem disadvantageous or even harmful to the plant because of RNAP's highly specific and vital function in the cell. Yet, the common geranium's (Pelargonium hortorum) rpo genes encoding RNAP are evolving up to 100 times faster than rpo genes in similar plants. Discovering the mechanism by which the RNAP evolves, may lead researchers to important information about how to reduce human genetic diseases such as Huntington's, cystic fibrosis, or sickle cell anemia.
Murley is majoring in physics and plans to pursue a doctorate in biophysics. A 2002 graduate of Tunkhannock Area High School, she has been inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma (physics honorary), Pi Mu Epsilon (mathematics honorary) and Phi Society (freshman honorary society). Holder of an Anderson Science Scholarship, Murley serves as a junior fellow for the physics department and was named as the Outstanding First-Year Physics Student in 2002-03. A consistent Dean's List student, she also holds Academic All-American honors for cross country athletes, first team all-conference honors in cross country in 2003 and 2004 and the Denison record in both the indoor and outdoor track 800 meter race.
Last summer (2004), Murley pursued a project at the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at Bucknell University. Her study of the phase transitions and structures of biomembranes culminated in a summer poster presentation at Bucknell, as well as a formal presentation to the physics faculty and other REU students. In March, Murley also completed another poster presentation at the American Physical Society meetings in Los Angeles. This coming summer she will use an Anderson Summer Scholars award to make a physical analysis of the biomechanics of various human motions.
In addition to serving as captain of the Cross Country Team in 2004, Murley has been co-president of the Society of Physics Students, a mentor in the Honors Program, and chair of the publicity committee for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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