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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Illinois students selected for Goldwater Scholarships

Congratulations to University of Illinois juniors William Lyon and Sriyankari Chitti, who were awarded Barry M. Goldwater scholarships for their potential to contribute to the advancement of research in the natural sciences, mathematics or engineering.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Goldwater, who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The program encourages the continued development of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to sophomores and juniors from the U.S. who intend to pursue doctorates. The scholarship provides recipients $7,500 for tuition, fees, books or room and board.

This year’s 396 scholars were selected from among the 1,343 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. “Each school can only nominate four students for this highly esteemed award, so we are proud that half of our nominees earned national recognition for their work,” said David Schug, the director of the National and International Scholarships Program at Illinois. “With the high caliber of our STEM students, just being nominated from Illinois is a big deal.”

Lyon, of Lake Forest, Illinois, and a graduate of Northridge Preparatory School, is studying chemical and biomolecular engineering with interests in the field of organometallic chemistry. He plans to earn a Ph.D. in organic chemistry to contribute to research that will streamline the drug-discovery process.

At Illinois, Lyon earned the Donald Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers as the top sophomore (among 150) in his department. He has earned authorship on a published manuscript for his research contributions in the lab of chemical engineering professor Huimin Zhao and has spent the past year researching organic synthesis and transition metal catalysis to develop novel cross-coupling reactions via C-H activation with Lycan Professor of Chemistry M. Christina White.

Lyon also is a member of the James Scholar Honors program at Illinois.

from left: Sriyankari Chitti and William Lyon, University of Illinois students who received Barry Goldwater Scholarships in 2020.

Chitti, of Marlboro, New Jersey, began conducting research at Rutgers University while attending the Medical Sciences Magnet Program at Freehold High School. As a freshman in the Division of General Studies at Illinois, she began working with chemistry professor Martin Burke on developing an iterative method for synthesizing three dimensionally enriched small molecules and has continued researching in this lab. This work inspired her to major in chemistry.

A first-generation American, Chitti has successfully written grants to fund her research, been invited to present her work nationally and received multiple awards for her various poster presentations, including a national outstanding poster award. She is also a recipient of the American Chemical Society Division of Organic Chemistry SURF, a national summer fellowship awarded to undergraduates pursuing organic chemistry research at their home institution.

Chitti has completed four graduate chemistry courses since her sophomore year of college. She also mentors fellow undergraduates in her lab and across campus. As an aspiring future professor, Chitti hopes to develop new methodologies to synthesize drug molecules more efficiently, contributing to the fields of organic chemistry and medicine.

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