Biochemistry major Kelsey Van Dalfsen ’13 became the second Elon University student ever to win a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which supports top American college students with career aspirations in mathematics, science or engineering.
Recipients receive up to $7,500 toward expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books and room and board for the upcoming academic year. Supported by the Goldwater Foundation, a committee weighs nominees submitted by the faculties of colleges and universities across the nation. More than 1,100 students applied for the scholarship.
The foundation’s board of trustees considers field of study, career objectives and “the extent to which that individual has the commitment and potential to make a significant contribution to his or her field.”
A Lumen Scholar, Van Dalfsen’s undergraduate research interests are in understanding how high glucose levels cause an increase in heart cell death in diabetic patients, a topic of intense personal interest because of the way both conditions affect a relative. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular biology or biochemistry and conduct medical research.
Earlier in her college career, Van Dalfsen’s received a grant from the American Society for Cell Biology that covered travel expenses for presenting research findings in a poster session during its 2011 annual meeting.
“Kelsey is not only hardworking and dedicated, she really understands the science that she’s learned so far and can apply it to her research, which usually doesn’t happen until you’re in graduate school,” said Assistant Professor Vickie Moore in the Department of Chemistry and Van Dalfsen’s research mentor. “She came to me in her sophomore year looking for research opportunities. At that point she already knew she wanted to get her Ph.D., which speaks to her focus.”
Van Dalfsen spent the summer at Yale University researching cell biology with funding from the National Science Foundation.