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News Release

For immediate use

April 1, 2005 -- No. 145

Photo note: To download photos, see end of release.

Local angles: Cary,
Raleigh; Atlanta

Carolina boasts bumper crop
of four Goldwater Scholars

CHAPEL HILL – Four University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students have won Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, which are among the nation’s most distinguished awards.

Juniors Carrie Gibbons of Cary, Kimberly Kallianos of Atlanta and James Mahaffey of Raleigh, and sophomore Gregory Charville of Raleigh were among 320 winners nationwide.

The 2005-2006 scholars were chosen from a field of 1,091 candidates nominated by faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities. Each scholar will receive up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses – sophomore winners for each of their last two years in college and junior winners for their senior years.

The Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation of Springfield, Va., makes the awards annually to sophomores and juniors who demonstrate strong commitment to careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering. Winners must display intellectual curiosity and intensity and possess potential for significant future contributions in their chosen field.

UNC records show that with this year’s winners, Carolina has had 27 Goldwater Scholars since the first awards were made in 1989. This year UNC is among 12 schools with four winners each, including Harvard, Princeton and Stanford universities.

"You’re in high cotton here," said Gerald Smith, foundation spokesman. "It’s a real feather in your cap to get that many."

Biology professor Dr. Bill Kier, chair of the faculty committee that chose UNC’s Goldwater nominees this year, wished there could have been more. Eight students applied, but the program allows UNC to nominate only four.

"I wish we could have nominated all eight," Kier said. "The committee had a tough time whittling it down to four. It’s a reminder of how impressive our undergraduates are."

Top national competitions such as the Goldwater program provide independent verification that top Carolina students are as bright as the brightest students anywhere, Kier said.

Congress created the Goldwater scholarship program in 1986 to honor the late senator, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

The achievements and goals of this year’s Goldwater Scholars at UNC are as follows:

Gibbons: Hard work, self-discipline

Gibbons, 20, is the daughter of Robin and Phillip Gibbons Sr. of Concord. She graduated from J.M. Robinson High School in Concord in May 2003. She also took courses at Rowan Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury.

Gibbons came to Carolina in August 2003 and is on track to graduate a year early, in May 2006, with a biology degree and distinction in public service. UNC students may achieve the distinction by completing 300 hours of community service and taking service-learning courses and skills training. Already, Gibbons has put in 555 service hours. Her grade-point average is just under 4.0.

She works on campus in a physiology and genetics lab, belongs to the student group Socially Conscious Science Emerging Leaders and helped organize a Triangle Undergraduate Research Symposium last November.

Gibbons’ goal is to become a research scientist at a top university and seek to solve the riddles of human diseases, to foster better treatments. She credited her parents for instilling in her the value of hard work and self-discipline.

"It is because of my parents and my upbringing that I feel driven to use my abilities to help others, through biomedical research," she said.

Kallianos: Inspired by lost sister

Kallianos, 21, is the daughter of Dr. George Kallianos and Candice Stone Bradshaw of Atlanta. She graduated from The Lovett School in Atlanta in 2002 as valedictorian and a member of the National Honor Society.

She is a National Merit Scholar and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa last fall. Her grade-point average is a perfect 4.0; she is on track to earn a biology degree in May 2006.

Since fall 2003, Kallianos has worked in a UNC lab where research is conducted on how blood vessels form. Her goal is to earn medical and doctoral degrees, then research organ transplantation and heart development and repair.

"My 10-year-old sister, Mary Kristen, received a heart transplant when I was 15," Kallianos said. "I was awed to see her healthy, walking around our house with the heart of another person powering her body. However, one month later, the (drugs) that were preventing the rejection of her new heart weakened her immune system too much to fight off an infection contracted from the donor heart. She died of the ensuing infection."

Last year Kallianos won an Andy and Cindi Griffith Scholarship in Dramatic Art. She has been a production manager, producer, stage manager and director for campus theater groups including the resident professional group, PlayMakers Repertory Company. She works with Habitat for Humanity and is in the honors program.

Mahaffey: Like father, like son

Mahaffey, 20, is the son of Jim and Amy Mahaffey of Raleigh and a graduate of Enloe High School. He has a 3.6 grade-point average and earned a Herbert Worth Jackson Scholarship, worth $2,500 annually for each of four years at Carolina. The award, from UNC, goes to a North Carolina resident with superior academic achievement, leadership and potential for success.

Mahaffey also won an undergraduate research fellowship from the Smallwood Foundation, through Carolina, that allowed him to work full-time last summer in a UNC lab, where he also works part-time during the academic year. He plans to complete a biology degree in May 2006, go on to earn his doctorate and then establish an independent research lab at a university.

Mahaffey’s father, a developmental biologist at N.C. State University, introduced Jamie Mahaffey to working in a research lab when Jamie was a high school freshman. His first two papers published in scientific journals were co-authored with his father, among others.

"My father … helped me gain an appreciation for how complex and amazing life is, but at the same time showed me how scientists were slowly unraveling the mysteries behind it," Mahaffey said.

He plans to conduct research on how about improper brain development can result in health problems.

"I feel that research in this field could directly help people who suffer from these afflictions and might provide insight into preventative measures people could take to reduce the chances of babies being born with mental handicaps," Mahaffey said.

Charville: scientist, classical pianist

Charville, 19, the son of Eugene and Jo Ellyn Charville of Raleigh, graduated from Wakefield High School, where he was academic all-conference in tennis and cross country.

He received an Edward C. Smith Sr. Carolina Scholarship from UNC, for superlative achievement in high school and potential for success in college. In-state Carolina Scholars receive $7,500 per year for four years.

A chemistry major, Charville has a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. He is an Eagle Scout, a College Board Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction and a classical pianist -- "Simply a personal interest," he said.

A counsel on the student attorney general’s staff, he occasionally is appointed to defend students charged under the honor system.

Charville works as a research assistant in a UNC chemistry lab and has done so at Eli Lilly and Co. in Research Triangle Park and UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

His goals are to earn a doctoral degree and join the faculty of a research institution, where he would teach as well as research the chemical mechanisms of the human body.

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Contacts:  

News Services contact: L.J. Toler, 962-8589, laura_toler@unc.edu