University of South Alabama junior Carmen Zirlott, a mechanical engineering major, has been named a 2009 recipient of the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, engineering and computer science.
Zirlott, a resident of Grand Bay, Ala., is one of 278 students in the United States selected to receive money to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year for two years.
The U.S. Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program in 1986 in honor of former U.S. Senator and 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, a Republican from Arizona. Its goal 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.
Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships, 102 Marshall Awards (seven of the 40 awarded in the United States in 2009), and numerous other distinguished fellowships.
The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from among 1,097 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. This year’s Goldwater Scholars include 163 men and 115 women, and virtually all of them intend to eventually obtain a Ph.D. The honorees include 30 mathematic majors, 190 science and related majors, 51 engineering majors and seven computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines.
“This award certainly reflects that the University is attracting students who can compete nationally with other universities and, hopefully, we will continue to attract those types of students in the future,” said Dr. Michael Spector, professor in the department of biomedical sciences. Spector was chair of the committee that selected the USA nominees for the Goldwater Scholarship.
Zirlott is also an active member of the USA Honors Program.
“Carmen has done an outstanding job in the Honors Program, and I’m not surprised by her Goldwater Scholarship award. The combination of majoring in mechanical engineering and being an active member in the Honors program is highly demanding, yet Carmen has more than met the academic challenges, and the Goldwater Scholarship award confirms her commitment to academic excellence,” said Dr. Robert Coleman, who oversees the Honors Program.
Coleman described her Honors Thesis project in bioengineering as “cutting edge.” The thesis research explores skin blood flow rates and seeks a method of measuring it through the use of radiofrenquency radiation to increase local skin temperature without harmful radiation effects. Zirlott presented her research at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in San Antonio last October, and this research has important medical applications in terms of possible treatment of diseases, such as diabetes.
Zirlott, a graduate of Alma Bryant High School in Irvington, is the daughter of Sherry and Roger Zirlott of Grand Bay.
Another USA nominee for the scholarship, Elizabeth Root, a junior in the department of geology, was awarded honorable mention by the Goldwater program.