Pair Win Goldwater Scholarships
Jeffrey Cannon, a junior chemistry major from Austin, Texas, and James Gillan, a sophomore chemistry/mathematics major from Concord, have been awarded prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships.
The award allots up to $7,500 a year to sophomores and juniors at American colleges and universities intending to pursue careers in math, science, and engineering fields.
The pair are among 323 Goldwater winners selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of nearly 1,100 students nominated by college and university faculties. The award will help cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Cannon and Gillan are the 30th and 31st Occidental students to win a Goldwater since 1990.
“I consider it a great honor to be selected,” Cannon said. “This is the first really competitive national award I’ve won and it does confirm the work that I’ve done and the things that I aspire to do in the future.”
Cannon’s current research lies in the area of stereochemistry, in which a molecule’s mirror image does not superimpose on itself. Such molecules are important in the production of drugs such as ibuprofen and Prozac. Stereochemical research can also create ways to reduce waste in producing drugs. Cannon plans to eventually work toward a doctorate and work in a field involving organic synthesis.
“I cannot really express how overcome I am by the feeling of being chosen a scholar,” Gillan said. “I came to Oxy with the purpose of pursuing undergraduate chemistry research so that I could compete for national awards like the Goldwater. To see it all come together like this is a most rewarding experience.”
Gillan’s research focuses on a class of enzymes called cytochromes P450. These proteins exist in all human beings and perform a wide array of physiological functions, such as drug metabolism and hormone synthesis. Chemists around the world are studying the enzyme so that they, in part, can better predict the effect of pharmaceuticals. Gillan is studying the specific behavior of the enzyme outside the body in hopes of determining better ways to capture its catalytic potential.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation is a federally endowed agency honoring the late Arizona senator. In its 18-year history, the foundation has awarded 4,885 scholarships worth about $48 million.