MHC Alums Earn Science Fellowship Awards

Posted: April 9, 2010

Mount Holyoke alumnae have been making a name for themselves and the College this month, with several recent graduates receiving highly coveted research fellowships.

Kathryn Greenberg '09 has received a 2010 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship and a Department of Energy Graduate Fellowship for her work in physics. Currently pursuing a master of philosophy degree in physics at the University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar, she will begin work on a Ph.D. in applied physics next fall at Harvard and expects to focus her research on optoelectronics.

In a letter announcing her award, NSF representative Carol Van Hartesveldt said Greenberg's selection "was based on [her] outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as [her] potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise."

Greenberg, who also recently won the LeRoy Apker Award of the American Physical Society, is one of five alumnae receiving the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Two other alums received honorable mentions from the prestigious program.

Samantha Brooke McRae '08, a doctoral candidate in polymer science and engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, will receive the NSF fellowship to continue her research on synthetic biocompatible polymers and their use in therapeutic applications, specifically those relating to the delivery of small molecule drugs and therapeutic proteins.

Winner April Joy Dinwiddie '08 is now finishing her first year as a doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University. Dinwiddie is interested in butterfly wing scale evolution and development, and she is currently investigating how the shape and structure of butterfly wing scales correlate with the colors they produce. She is also working on a project that uses molecular biology techniques to show the preservation of fossil proteins in amber insects.

Allison C. Craney '06 began a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, this past fall. She has been awarded an NSF fellowship for her proposal to investigate how the bacteria involved in latent tuberculosis infections are able to survive in a dormant state.

"We don't yet understand how bacteria obtain energy in the latent state, and it's been almost impossible to treat," Craney said. "Recently it's been shown that TB possesses a transporter that can bring cholesterol into the cell, and we predict that a different candidate protein is integrally involved in cholesterol catabolism. By biochemically and structurally defining this protein's structure and function, hopefully a new treatment for latent TB infection could become available."

Claire Bendersky '07 won her fellowship to continue research in geosciences and geochemistry at Columbia University. In 2008, Bendersky won a Fulbright scholarship to study in France, where she studied the primitive Semarkona meteorite to determine the characteristics of the environment of our solar system during its infancy.

Claire C. Treat '05, a graduate student conducting research in ecosystem ecology at the University of New Hampshire, earned an honorable mention, as did Alexandria Christine Brown '06. Brown is currently studying evolutionary biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Related Links:

MHC’s Greenberg '09 Wins Major Physics Award

MHC's Dinwiddie's Research Recognized

Bendersky Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Claire Treat Wins Prestigious Scholarship