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Marrissa Izykowicz, Christian Ciattei and Zoe Behrman
Marrissa Izykowicz, Christian Ciattei and Zoe Behrman

Three SU Students Earn Goldwater Scholarships

SALISBURY, MD---Three Salisbury University students were named recipients of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the preeminent undergraduate academic award in the fields of natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.

SU juniors Marrissa Izykowicz of Stroudsburg, PA, Christian Ciattei of Perry Hall, MD, and Zoe Behrman of California, MD, are among the 450 students, from an applicant pool of more than 5,000 sophomores and juniors, who were awarded scholarships of up to $7,500 per year to assist in their pursuit of degrees and research.

“This award wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of SU’s faculty mentors,” said Ciattei, a geography major, focusing on ecotourism effects on climate and animals in Brazil with Dr. Andrea Presotto, assistant professor of geography and geosciences. “From application drafts and interviewing knowledge, to inviting students to assist in their own independent research for hands-on experiences, they make you feel supported and encouraged every step of the way.” 

Assisting with Presotto’s research, Ciattei will analyze bearded capuchin monkeys in Brazilian areas where mangrove forests and other species have had to adapt to the presence of humans due to tourism growth. The Goldwater is not Ciattei’s only recognition for his work, as he has also received a DAAD-Rise scholarship to study geographic information systems mapping in Germany.

Izykowicz, a biology major and chemistry research lab assistant with Dr. Anthony Rojas, assistant professor of chemistry, has presented her work at the SU Student Research Conference and SU’s annual Posters on the Bay research event, and plans to present nationally later this year. Their study is centered on organometallic MRI contrast agents, work for which Rojas recently earned a National Institutes of Health research grant.

 “This semester, I have started working toward attaching complexes containing an iron (II) metal center and novel ligand to peptides with tissue-specific receptors with the ultimate goal of sending contrast directly to tissues of interest,” said Izykowicz. “The goal ultimately is to design ‘intelligent’ MRI contrast agents to overcome current limitations of MRI agents that will provide details in real time.

“What we are able to learn and design in the lab with Dr. Rojas is so valuable and something that could benefit others in the future and provide better results while making things safer for patients.”

“I attribute my selection as a Goldwater Scholar to the unique and meaningful research experiences SU has offered me,” said Behrman, who is majoring in biology. “This would not have been possible without the guidance and support of my research mentor Dr. Jessica Clark.” 

This year, the Goldwater added a new student question to the online application that asked how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the student’s academic, research and career plans. For the second year, the scholarship has been awarded based on the students’ specific fields of study.

Behrman’s work with Dr. Jessica Clark, associate professor of biological sciences, focuses on molecular mechanisms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy in hyperglycemic zebrafish. 

“From the moment I visited Dr. Clark’s lab as a junior in high school and learned of the countless opportunities available to me as an SU student, I knew this was the path for me,” said Behrman. 

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including three decades in the U.S. Senate.

“I’m so proud of our record number of winners this year,” said Dr. Kristen Walton, director of SU’s Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office. “The Goldwater not only gives them money to help with their SU expenses for next year, but also opens doors with graduate school contacts and the prestige of the award makes them more likely to be strongly considered for the Fulbright Award and other awards in the future.”

Students interested in the Goldwater should email Dr. Matt Bailey, SU’s Goldwater Scholarship advisor, or Walton.  

For more information, visit the SU Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office website.