NORMAN — Three University of Oklahoma honors students have been named 2014 Goldwater Scholars, bringing 46 as the number of OU students named Goldwater Scholars since the competition began in 1991 and placing OU in the top university ranks nationally.
Sydney Bader, of Richland, Wash., Laura Figueroa of Bogota, and Yuan Rui, of Norman, were awarded the prestigious scholarships on the basis of potential and intent to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.
Bader, a junior majoring in biochemistry, is working with Susan Schroeder, OU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, as a research assistant investigating the structure and function of viral RNA.
She began research at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory her senior year of high school as a Young Women in Science intern. For the past two summers, she worked with Lizabeth Alexander, senior research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where she explored how the molecular composition of soil could affect climate change.
Upon graduation from OU, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in virology and structural biology and work toward disease prevention.
Bader has a 4.0 grade-point average and is a member of the OU Honors College, a member of the University Symphony Orchestra where she plays the violin, and serves as the international student outreach leader for the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
A National Merit Scholar, Bader’s honors and awards include an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program research grant, the Chris T. Memorial Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Elks National Foundation Scholarship, the president’s and the dean’s honors rolls. This summer, she will study in Ireland and plans to volunteer with a youth mentoring organization in her hometown.
Laura Figueroa, originally from Bogota, is a junior whose family lives in Claremore. She maintains a 3.96 grade-point average and is pursuing a degree in biology. She has worked extensively with Elizabeth Bergey, associate professor of biology and associate heritage biologist with the Oklahoma Biological Survey.