Two Augustana Students Receive Goldwater Scholarships

SIOUX FALLS – Augustana students Nick Bleeker and Bethany Jochim have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships for the 2009-2010 academic year.

The 2009 Goldwater scholars were selected based on academic merit from a field of 1,097 mathematics, science and engineering students nationwide. Bleeker and Jochim are the 13th and 14th Augustana students to be awarded Goldwater Scholarships.

Mrs. Peggy Goldwater Clay, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, announced the Trustees awarded 278 scholarships for the 2009–2010 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Bleeker, a junior, is majoring in chemistry (American Chemical Society). He is the son of Brenda and Bruce Bleeker of Shakopee, Minn.

Jochim, a sophomore, is majoring in physics. She is the daughter of Loretta and Michael Jochim of Pierre, S.D.

Nick BleekerAfter his freshman year, Bleeker (shown right) participated in a 10-week research experience funded by the National Science Foundation through the Northern Plains Undergraduate Research Center. His work focused on the synthesis of ionic liquids under the direction of Augustana chemistry professors, Dr. Gary Earl and Dr. Duane Weisshaar. Following his sophomore year, he conducted a 10-week research project under the direction of Professor Brian S.J. Blagg from the University of Kansas. Bleeker’s work involved the synthesis, purification, and characterization antibolic compounds based on previous research conducted in the lab.

This summer, Bleeker will carry out research at the University of Minnesota under the direction of Professor Gunda I. Georg. Details of the project have not been established.

“Nick Bleeker is an outstanding young man who has worked extremely hard during his tenure at Augustana College to be a wonderful student, researcher, lab assistant, tutor, student leader, and last but not least, chemical demonstrator (master of the green flame),” said Dr. Jetty Duffy-Matzner, associate professor and chair of the Chemistry Department. “We are so proud of all his accomplishments and thrilled that he was honored with a Goldwater Scholarship.”

Bethany JochimTo date, Jochim’s research has involved studying how dissociating molecules rearrange their bonds to from new molecules. During the summer following her freshman year at Augustana, she came up with a theoretical model that provided a plausible explanation for some counter-intuitive experimental results.

“It was a problem we had been puzzling over for a couple years,” said Dr. Eric Wells, assistant professor of physics at Augustana. “Bethany’s work really allowed us to get a handle on why we saw the experimental outcome we did.”

Members of the collaboration from Kansas State University were also impressed with Jochim’s work. “Bethany (shown right) impressed me as a quick learner from her first visit to the laboratory,” said Professor Itzik Ben-Itzhak, director of the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory at KSU. “Her main work on the elaborate molecular structure calculations was a task that would challenge many graduate students.”

This summer Jochim plans to turn her attention to new experiments involving the selective cleavage and subsequent formation of molecular bonds, a more challenging problem.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the Goldwater Scholarship is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.