March 23, 2017  

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Two Southern Miss Students Selected as Honorable Mentions for Goldwater Scholarship

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University of Southern Mississippi undergraduate students Nathaniel Prine and Ryan Campbell have been recognized for their research efforts as Honorable Mentions for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

The Goldwater Scholarship offers support for the next generation of research scientists. Students must be majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) fields and planning a career in research. Students may apply as either a sophomore or a junior.

Prine is a sophomore Polymer Science major from Petal, Miss., and an Honors College student with a 3.83 GPA. Because he is a sophomore, Prine will be eligible to reapply for the Goldwater Scholarship next year.

“I was disappointed that I did not win the scholarship, however I was excited that my many months of hard work had been recognized with an Honorable Mention, and that I have the opportunity to apply again next year,” said Prine.

Prine has worked extensively in the laboratory of Southern Miss polymer Professor Dr. Robson Story. Prine’s research focus is part of a University contract with the Joint-Army-Navy-NASA-Air Force (JANNAF) Interagency Populsion Committee to analyze and determine the functionality and hydroxyl content of polymer samples that have been aged between 0-52 weeks.

“The overall goal of the research is to determine how the functionality of these polymers change with time,” said Prine. “These polymers are to be used in solid rocket fuels, so it is very important that these polymer binders do not ‘weaken’ over time. Otherwise, the consequences could include rocket motor failure and/or explosion of the rocket module.”

Campbell is a junior Chemistry and Biochemistry major from Alpharetta, Ga., and an Honors College student with a 4.0 GPA. He plans to apply for a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship in the fall.

“When I was first informed of the news that I had been selected as a Goldwater Honorable Mention, I was extremely excited,” said Campbell. “While I did not receive a financial award with this honor, I am honored to just have my hard work and research recognized by such a prestigious foundation.”

Campbell continues to work under the tutelage of Southern Miss chemistry and biochemistry Professor Dr. Vijay Rangachari. Campbell’s research involves studying interactions between amyloid-beta protein species from two neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer’s disease and cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

“A high coincidence rate of these two diseases has been documented clinically; however, the molecular details are still elusive,” said Campbell. “I am specifically looking at the possibility of this coincidence being caused by the amyloid-beta species cross-interacting with each other in order to form more toxic species which can further the disease states seen in afflicted patients.”

Robyn Curtis, director of Nationally Competitive Awards, notes that Southern Miss leads the state with 21 Goldwater Scholars to date. While Prine and Campbell did not acquire the top prize, Curtis points out that the Honorable Mention selections underscore the standard of excellence shown by the University’s student researchers.

“Every year the number of Goldwater nominees increases, while the number of awards has decreased. With this in mind we’re very pleased to see our students’ work continue to be consistently recognized by the Goldwater Foundation,” said Curtis. “Clearly both Ryan and Nathaniel have great merit to be recognized at this level so early in their career, and I look forward to working with them on new applications next year.”

For information about national scholarship and awards at Southern Miss, contact the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards at 601.266.4533 or visit: https://www.usm.edu/honors/office-nationally-competitive-awards