University of Miami Sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences Daniel Richter Awarded 2014 Goldwater Scholarship

Eric Keen (College of Arts & Sciences) and Joaquin Nunez (Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science) Receive Honorable Mention

Three University of Miami students are recognized among the nation’s outstanding future scientists through the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship program.

College of Arts & Sciences sophomore Daniel Richter was named a 2014 Goldwater Scholar. Only 300 Goldwater scholarships are given in the United States each year.

Left to right: 2014 Goldwater Scholar Daniel Richter, a
sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences majoring in physics
and computer science; junior marine science/biology major
Joaquin Nunez, honorable mention; sophomore biology major
Eric Keen, honorable mention.

Richter is majoring in applied physics and computer science. He brought home gold medals for UM from the statewide Student Integral Contest – where students solve increasingly challenging calculus problems – at each of the past two Mathematical Association of America Florida Sectional meetings. Richter spent a year researching carbohydrate binding in the Department of Chemistry, and is excited to serve as the co-president of the Association of Computational Machinery for the 2014-15 school year.

Professor of Computer Science Victor Milenkovic supported Richter’s scholarship application. He wrote, “I can say with certainty that he is one of our strongest students, both in ‘pure’ computer science and in interdisciplinary domains in computer science such as computer graphics,” concluding, “I recommend Daniel as strongly as possible for the Goldwater Scholarship.”

Associate Professor of Mathematics Subramanian Ramakrishnan, who directs undergraduate studies in the department, noted, “Within a week or two, I realized that Mr. Richter was an exceptional student. Through his participation in class, I was convinced that his clarity of thought was outstanding and his ability to visualize higher dimensional objects extremely impressive.”

He added, “He definitely ranks among the top 1% of all strong mathematics students I have seen in this university.”

Eric Keen, a sophomore in College of Arts & Sciences majoring in biology and microbiology received Honorable Mention in recognition of his academic achievements. Keen’s research focuses on how microbes interact in natural environments, and how scientists might extrapolate from those relationships to help solve real-world problems.

Richard Myers, a lecturer in biochemistry and molecular biology who directs the Laboratory of Genetic Recombination, wrote in his letter of support, “In my opinion, he is the most outstanding science undergraduate student that I have seen since I joined UM in 1997.” He noted that Keen’s interest in research began at a very early age, since he grew up near the National Institutes of Health.

Myers called Keen: goal-oriented, persistent, effective at both seeking and securing opportunities, creative, fearless, and a natural leader who helps others succeed. He concluded, “Eric Keen is an asset to UM, a perfect candidate for the Goldwater Scholarship.”

Joaquin Nunez also received Honorable Mention from the Goldwater Scholarship Selection Committee. Nunez transferred to the Marine Science/Biology program in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in fall 2013, after earning an Associate’s degree in biology from Miami Dade College – where he was involved with the National Science Foundation-funded STEM FYE program, which provides academic services to underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

During his first semester at UM, Nunez joined the team in the Laboratory of Marine Genomics, where he studies how genomes in the mummichog fish respond to changes in temperature. His work has implications for climate change and the global distribution of fish populations.

Associate Professor of Marine Biology Marjorie Oleksiak, who leads the marine genomics lab, wrote, “Mr. Nunez has proven to be responsible and dedicated, but also enthusiastic and curious.” She said that this “dedicated scholar” has an innate “ability to see a need or opportunity and act on it,” adding, “Often, what he does is above and beyond the call of duty.”

Monica Minchala served as his mentor in the Miami Dade STEM program. She wrote, “Whatever he approaches, whether it is learning new material, guiding new projects, tutoring students, or conducting a presentation in front of a large faculty/staff audience, he does it with vigor and with a full commitment to give his very best.”

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to honor five-term Republican Senator Barry Goldwater. It aims to provide a steady source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

Each scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

For more information on applying for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship visit www.miami.edu/awards

April 23, 2014