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Biochemistry major Michael Hayes wins Goldwater Scholarship in recognition of strong scientific research skills.

Friday, Apr. 3, 2009

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 3 — Junior biochemistry major Michael J. Hayes has won a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, an award for students expected to one day be leaders in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, or engineering.

He was one of 278 sophomores or juniors nationwide to receive the annual award, which is named after the late U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater.

Hayes, who is from Scappoose, Oregon, near Portland, has been a strategic leader in his six-person undergraduate bioanalytical chemistry research group for two years, said his mentor, Assistant Chemistry Professor Steven Suljak. The group is trying to find aptamers—certain kind of molecules that bind specifically to target molecules—which are useful for identifying diseases. One current focus is on developing aptamers for peptide variants of the protein VEGF, which is implicated in a number of cancers.

Hayes has greatly expedited his team’s work by staying abreast of the latest literature, protocols, and methods used by biochemistry researchers across the country, and picking and choosing the best of them—or unique ways of applying them—for his team.

“What stands out about Michael is an exceptional combination of academic strength, and demonstrated success and potential in scientific research,” said Suljak. “He has an unusually broad understanding of this field,” he added.

Hayes has been recognized for his research prowess at SCU as well: Last spring he was one of two students to receive a Provost Research Fellowship for highly qualified students with promising research agendas, as well as a Gerald and Sally DeNardo Scholarship to support the undergraduate research experience of outstanding science students with Santa Clara University faculty mentors.

He used the Provost Scholarship to visit one of the University of Minnesota’s analytical chemistry research groups with Prof. Suljak, and says he learned new tactics for his team to use in their research.

The Goldwater award will cover up to $7,500 of next year’s tuition, fees, books, or room and board.

Hayes, who is minoring in music and performed as the Count in the Center for Performing Arts’ performance of the “Marriage of Figaro” earlier this year, says an aptitude for science runs in his family. His father is a doctor with a specialty in drug and addiction medicine; his mother is a library manager at a hospital in Hillsboro, Oregon; and his sister is a student in nursing school.

He plans to pursue a M.D./Ph.D. after graduation and continue in the field of medical research.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,758 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.

 

About the Goldwater Scholars
The scholarship program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. In its 21-year history, the foundation has awarded 5,801 scholarships worth approximately $56 million.

This year’s Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,097 mathematics, science, and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Of the scholars, 163 are men, 115 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Thirty scholars are mathematics majors, 190 are science and related majors, 51 are majoring in engineering, and seven are computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines.

MEDIA CONTACT: Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations, Assistant Director | (408) 554-5121 | dlohse@scu.edu.

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