Two Seniors Awarded Churchill Scholarships

Two Carolina seniors have been selected to receive 2008-09 Churchill Scholarships for graduate work at Cambridge University in England, valued at $46,000 to $52,000 each.

Lisa Bond, a biology major with a chemistry minor from Bowie, Md., plans to use the scholarship to earn a master’s degree in biochemistry. Stephanie Jones, a chemistry major with a minor in entrepreneurship from Cary, will seek a master’s degree in chemistry. Both aim to become university research professors.

Bond and Jones were among 13 Churchill Scholars chosen nationwide by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. Ninety-eight American colleges and universities had the option to nominate two candidates. Carolina is the only North Carolina institution with Churchill Scholars this year.

Carolina is the only university to have two Churchill Scholars named in the same year twice over the past decade — previously, in 2000-01. That year, Cornell University also had two. Amherst College had two last year; Princeton University has two this year.

UNC and Princeton are tied at eight for the most Churchill Scholars from any campus from 1997 through this year. The California Institute for Technology has had seven. Cornell, Harvard and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign each have five. The universities of Chicago and Rochester, and Duke, Michigan State and Yale universities have four each over the same period.

Since 1993, 12 UNC students have received the Churchill. The last UNC recipient was Nick Love ’05 in 2005.

“Lisa and Stephanie are incredibly accomplished young scholars, and I couldn’t be happier for them,” said Peter Mucha, an associate professor of mathematics and chair of the nominating committee for Churchill candidates from UNC.

Recipients are American undergraduates planning to pursue graduate studies in science, mathematics and engineering. They are chosen for outstanding academic and extracurricular accomplishments. Candidates also are evaluated on academic work, Graduate Record Examination scores, capacity for original and creative work, character, adaptability, demonstrated concern for critical problems of society and good health.

The scholarship provides $25,000 for tuition and fees, $20,000 to $24,000 for living expenses for a nine- or 12-month course of study, respectively, and up to $1,000 for one round-trip airfare from this country to Britain. Each scholar also is eligible for a research grant of up to $2,000.

At UNC, Bond became a research assistant in the genetics lab of biology Professor Kerry Bloom. Bond presented results of her work there at N.C. Undergraduate Research Symposia in 2005 and 2006. She also was an author on a scientific paper published in January in the journal Current Biology.

Last summer, Bond interned at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes for Health, studying the role that myosin proteins play in cellular processes, including transportation of messenger RNA. Mutation of one of these proteins has been implicated in disorders including heart disease; too much of the protein may play a role in prostate cancer, she said.

Bond has made the dean’s list every semester at Carolina, where she holds a university merit scholarship of $9,000 a year and a National Merit Scholarship of $2,000 a year. She has won awards and funding from the American Society for Cell Biology and at UNC, the biology department and the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Jones, who has conducted research at UNC since she was a high school junior, graduated from the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in 2004.

“The University of Cambridge will be the perfect place to continue my exploration of how chemical factors contribute to stem cell biology and how materials can be rationally designed to induce differentiation and tissue repair,” she said. “As a young citizen and scientist, I am enthralled by the vast potential of stem cells to improve human health and by the challenges we face to turn this potential into reality.”

Jones credited UNC professors of chemistry Holden Thorp ’86 and Muhammad Yousaf for accepting her into their labs and mentoring her in her research there. (Thorp is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.)

A mentor to UNC and high school students, Jones said, “I believe many students are discouraged from science because of lack of personal interaction with professors who do the most interesting research. I want to change this.”

Last year, Jones received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, another of the most distinguished study awards given annually to outstanding U.S. students. She was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa by the fall of her junior year. She has spoken twice on the importance of undergraduate research to the UNC System Board of Governors.

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