BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo chemical engineering
majors Christopher Dundas and Phillip Tucciarone are now a part of
the prestigious group of students to receive the Barry M. Goldwater
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education
Program was founded in 1986 with the goal of alleviating the
critical shortage of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians
and engineers. The foundation was authorized by the U.S. Congress
in honor of Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, and is financed by a trust
fund that has been established in the U.S. Treasury.
More than 1,000 nominees apply each year in hope of receiving
$7,500 toward the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board
on the condition they pursue careers in mathematics, the natural
sciences or engineering.
Dundas, a sophomore, plans to obtain his PhD in biological
engineering and research protein engineering at a university. Since
his freshman year, he has studied protein engineering in the UB
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering under Sheldon
Park, assistant professor of chemical engineering. Dundas
handpicked the research program because it combines his interests
in biology, physics, mathematics and chemistry.
“Christopher came to me excited about doing research, and
was mature for an incoming freshman,” says Park. “He
was a go-getter, and he stood out among many talented
Eager to have his work published as an undergraduate, Dundas
quickly progressed from assisting graduate students to leading his
own research project to develop a protein purification system under
Park’s supervision. The system would isolate proteins,
allowing them to be studied more effectively.
“Manipulating what makes us up at the molecular level is
the most fascinating thing that can ever be done,” says
Dundas, who is also a member of the University Honors College.
As part of another project, Dundas will head a team of UB
students attempting to engineer bacteria that can purify water. The
study is part of the International Genetically Engineered Machine
competition, an international synthetic biology research
competition that draws teams from more than 250 universities around
the world. The UB team, founded by Dundas, is the first iGEM
chapter among SUNY schools.
Outside of his research, Dundas is heavily involved with the UB
chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, or AIChE,
where he is the chair of their Society of Biological Engineering
In addition to receiving the Goldwater Scholarship, Dundas has
been awarded the Provost Academic Scholarship and AIChE Outstanding
Tucciarone, a junior and member of the University Honors
College, has a number of accolades of his own.
His research on silicon-based nanomaterial has been awarded the
University Honors College Research and Creative Activity grant, and
the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’
Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Award of Distinction. The
study will attempt to use nanomaterial to develop non-toxic
bio-imaging, which could be used in cancer treatment.
Tucciarone’s work has already been published. He
co-authored two publications in ACS Nano and Nano Letters, both
monthly, peer-reviewed, scientific journals published by the
American Chemical Society.
Tucciarone’s passion for civic engagement and education
are among the things that make him a remarkable student. Working in
inner city public schools through the Interdisciplinary Science and
Engineering Partnership (ISEP), a program that seeks to improve
science education in Buffalo Public Schools, opened his eyes to the
inequalities in education, he says, and helped him recognize that
without the scholarships he received, attending college would be
more of a dream than reality.
“If I didn’t go to college, I would have joined the
Marines or worked odd jobs,” says Tucciarone, an Orange
County, N.Y., native. “It troubles me to see others who
didn’t have the same opportunities I had.”
In an effort to help others attain the same opportunities,
Tucciarone serves as director of public service in the Honors
Student Council, and has travelled to the Dominican Republic to
work in English education reform.
With the aid of the Goldwater Scholarship, he plans to obtain a
PhD in materials science and teach future engineers and scientists
at a university.