Chemical engineering sophomore awarded Goldwater Scholarship

Sophomore chemical engineering and chemistry student Marie Armbruster has received a Goldwater Scholarship. She is one of 252 Goldwater Scholars selected for the 2016-2017 academic year.

The scholarship, which goes to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States, covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Marie Armbruster

Armbruster, from Lexington, Kentucky, is a Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholar, a member of the Vanderbilt Engineering Council, and a board member of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. She also is the recipient of a Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Scholarship and a George W. F. Myers Scholarship.

Her research interest is alternative energies, particularly photovoltaics, and her goal is to teach at the university level.

In summer 2015, as a Phillips Scholar at the Air Force Research Laboratory located at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she worked on development of flexible and conductive solar cell coverglass materials for space resiliency of satellite power arrays. She currently is writing a first-author journal paper for an upcoming IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference based on her work at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Armbruster works in the Bioinspired Materials and Surfaces Lab, headed by Kane Jennings, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and chair of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. She conducts research on photovoltaic systems incorporating the photosystem I protein used in the photosynthetic machinery of plants. The high quantum efficiency of this protein is a desirable quality in photovoltaic conversion.

Jennings, Paul Labinis, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and Armbruster’s academic adviser, and Barbara Knutson, professor of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Kentucky, were her reference writers.

Jarrod Shilts, a junior neuroscience and molecular and cellular biology major, also has received a Goldwater Scholarship. Sirui Ma, a junior neuroscience major, was awarded honorable mention.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,150 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the institutional representatives of 415 colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred forty-four of the Scholars are men, 108 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective.

The Goldwater Foundation was established in 1986 and the scholarship program honors the late Senator Barry Goldwater. It was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Since its first award in 1989, the Foundation has bestowed 7,680 scholarships worth approximately $48 million. The Trustees plan to award about 260 scholarships for the 2017–2018 academic year.

Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314
Twitter @VUEngineering