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Two 2012 Goldwater Scholars continue Clarkson’s winning tradition

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POTSDAM — Clarkson University juniors Martin W. LaFleur and Nicholas A. Restaino joined an exclusive group of students selected for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious honor for undergraduates studying science, math and engineering.

In addition to academic excellence exhibited through maintaining a high grade-point average while taking difficult course loads, scholars are required to draft a research proposal.

Mr. LaFleur, a Potsdam native, was selected in part for his proposal to research nanoparticals for chemotherapy. Typically, chemotherapy treatments allow a few cancerous cells to survive, but with the help of nanotechnology, the remaining cells can be eliminated, Mr. LaFleur said.

“Remnant cells can cause a relapse of cancer, which can lead to a higher mortality rate,” he said. “Hopefully, this kind of research leads to a more effective treatment against cancer.”

Mr. Restaino, from Rochester, proposed research to model fuel cell components. Mr. Restaino said fuel cells combust hydrogen to create low-cost, low-pollution energy.

“I am looking at improving fuel cell technology to make it more viable for everyday use,” he said.

Both students were part of the Clarkson Honors Program, directed by Jonathan D. Goss.

“Obviously, I credit the quality of our students. They can compete with the best,” he said. “Marty and Nick both have been published. I wasn’t published until I had my Ph.D.”

Mr. Goss, director of the program since 2010, said the two students continue a tradition of Goldwater Scholars at Clarkson. Since 1989, 27 Clarkson University students have received the award. This year marks the 13th consecutive year a student at the university has earned the honor, a remarkable run for a school of 3,018 undergraduate students, a fraction of the enrollment of its competitors.

“We are a research institution, but we are also primarily an undergraduate institution,” Mr. Goss said. “If our faculty members want to do research, they usually have to involve undergraduates while other schools focus on their graduate students.”

Both students credit their time at Clarkson for raising their interest in research and pushing them toward careers in science.

“For me, it changed everything,” Mr. LaFleur said. “The Clarkson School hooked me up with an adviser. I wound up getting a research job that eventually led to me getting an internship at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center” in New York City.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the five-term U.S. senator from Arizona, who died in 1998.

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