Three Pomona Students Awarded Science Grants

Pomona College science students Benjamin Kozak PO ’10, William Fletcher PO ’11, and Thomas Lane PO ‘10 recently received prestigious science scholarships from the Beckman Scholars Program and the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship program.

Kozak, a biology major, will receive a $17,000 award to fund comprehensive science research with faculty mentoring for two summers and the upcoming academic year from the Beckman Scholars Program.

Kozak is currently involved in research with biology professor Clarissa Cheney studying protein interactions in intracellular transport. He said that learning about protein functions in his biology classes at Pomona interested him in cellular research that focuses on the mechanics of the process by which proteins are constructed and used.

According to Kozak, his fascination with the functions of the human body combined with an interest in the sciences compelled him to choose to concentrate in biology.

“Biology combines all the things you learn in other sciences to help us learn more about how the body keeps itself alive,” said Kozak.Kozak added that Cheney’s advice and encouragement was a major factor in his decision to apply for the scholarship. “Starting from my freshman year, I knew about students receiving the Beckman and that it was really prestigious,” Kozak said. “At first, I wasn’t considering applying because I didn’t think I would get it. But Professor Cheney encouraged me to give it a shot.”

Kozak’s scholarship will allow him to continue working on his current research project until the summer after his senior year. He plans to attend medical school after graduation and is especially interested in research concerning HIV-AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular diseases.

Fletcher and Lane were both awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, which grants $7,500 per year to scholarship recipients toward the cost of tuition, room and board, and other fees.

Fletcher is double majoring in chemistry and mathematics; Lane is majoring in chemistry. Both Fletcher and Lane work with chemistry Professor Mal Johal on a research project studying physical states of inorganic systems and their interactions.

“I was involved in a project where we were building solar cells in my first year. I got more interested in the fundamental science of how we are building those films,” said Lane.

Although he was originally planning to major in physics and mathematics, Fletcher said that Johal’s introductory chemistry course changed his opinion about chemistry.

“My time in Introductory Chemistry was probably the best time that I’ve had in the sciences at Pomona,” said Fletcher.

After graduating from Pomona, Fletcher plans to continue studying mathematics at an institution located in Moscow. He said that he would use the scholarship to help pay for the program abroad. In the future, he may also apply for a Fulbright scholarship and continue with graduate education in the sciences. He is considering a career in university level teaching or medicine.

“I am not quite certain about the future yet,” said Fletcher. “Research is a distinct possibility and very fulfilling because it allows one to do something new every day.”

Aside from the sciences, Fletcher said that he considered minoring in history when he arrived at Pomona, but that his involvement in various science disciplines have allowed little time.

Lane also plans to pursue a Ph.D. after graduation and possibly work in academia as a university professor.

“Academia would be a continuation of what I’ve been doing here,” said Lane. “I’ve had such a great time at Pomona learning chemistry and being in the academic environment interacting across the sciences and with the humanities as well.”In addition to chemistry, Lane has also enjoyed classes in the politics and philosophy departments.

For both the Goldwater and the Beckman Scholars programs, students from the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering were nominated by faculty from colleges and universities nationwide. For 2009-2010, Goldwater Scholarships were awarded to 278 students who were chosen from a group of 1,097 nominated students.

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