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Four students earn Goldwater Scholarship nominations

Thursday, March 6, 2014



MANHATTAN — Kansas State University has nominated four students for the 2014 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The nominees are Thuy Cao, Garden City; Max Goering, McPherson; Brendan Heffernan, Olathe; and Christine Spartz, Ellington, Conn.

Established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater from Arizona, the scholarship is awarded to nearly 300 college students across the country every year. Awardees receive up to $7,500 annually for college-related expenses. With 69 Goldwater scholars to date, Kansas State University ranks first among the nation's 500 state-supported universities.

All four of this year's nominees have active research projects and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, science or engineering — a requirement of the scholarship.

Cao, a junior in biochemistry, is working with Neal Dittmer, research assistant professor in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. They are researching the angiotensin-converting enzyme, or ACE, in the tobacco hornworm to learn about the enzyme's function.

Cao is a member of the Developing Scholars Program and K-State Taekwondo and received a Johnson Cancer Research Center research award. A graduate of Garden City High School, she is the daughter of Hai Cao and Tan Vu, both from Garden City.

Goering, a senior in mathematics, is working with Pietro Poggi-Corradini, professor of mathematics, researching the discrete equivalent to the notion of modulus of path families in the complex plane, called the modulus of families of walks on finite graphs. The continuum case already has widespread applications in harmonic and functional analysis. The discrete case shows potential for understanding mathematical models not limited to those of epidemics, social networks, and many biological processes.

Goering is a member of Math Club, Physics Club, Students for Environmental Action, the university's 2013 Mathematical Competition in Modeling team and Phi Kappa Phi. He received the Leonard E. Fuller Scholarship, Evan Stewart Endowment Scholarship twice, Phi Kappa Phi Sophomore Scholarship and the Leo E. Hudiberg Academic Scholarship. He won first place in the 14th annual S. Thomas Parker Math Competition and has placed three years in a row at the International Putnam Competition. A graduate of McPherson High School, he is the son of Mike and Jana Goering, McPherson.

Heffernan, a junior in physics, is working with Christopher Sorensen, Cortelyou-Rust university distinguished professor. They are creating and calibrating an apparatus to measure the backscatter of light from soot, which should have an impact on climate modeling.

Heffernan is a member of the Society of Physics Students and the university's Climbing Club. He has received a Putnam Scholarship and a College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Scholarship. A graduate of Olathe South High School, he is the son of Michael and Karen Heffernan, Olathe.

Spartz, a junior in chemistry, is working with Christer Aakeröy, university distinguished professor of chemistry. They are attempting to alter the water solubility of the cancer drug 5-flurouracil to explore different drug administering methods. The drug's poor solubility limits it to intravenous administration. Introducing the drug to the chemical structure of another molecule could help the drug to dissolve in water, which could allow the drug to be administered in pill form.

Spartz is the treasurer for the Beta Rho chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma chemistry fraternity, an undergraduate teaching assistant for organic chemistry lab and a St. Isidore's Phone-a-thon volunteer. She has received a Johnson Cancer Research Center research award, the American Chemical Society Undergraduate Award in Inorganic Chemistry, the Baldwin Reinhold Jr. Scholarship twice, freshman and sophomore PLU Award from the university's chemistry department, and H. H. King Memorial Scholarship. A graduate of Ellington High School, she is the daughter of Martin and Barbara Spartz, Ellington, Conn.

Students interested in learning more about competing for future Goldwater awards or other scholarships can contact Jim Hohenbary at jimlth@k-state.edu.


Jim Hohenbary


Thuy Cao is "twee" "gow

News tip

Garden City, McPherson and Olathe, Kan.; and Ellington, Conn.

Written by

Stephanie Jacques

At a glance

Kansas State University's Goldwater Scholarship nominees are Thuy Cao, Garden City; Max Goering, McPherson; Brendan Heffernan, Olathe; and Christine Spartz, Ellington, Conn.