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Junior Diane Ward Bravenec Wins Goldwater Scholarship

by Web on April 10, 2015

Millsaps College student Diane Ward Bravenec is the recipient of a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes the nation’s next generation of top research scientists. Bravenec, a junior who is from Brandon and majoring in chemistry and creative writing with a minor in mathematics, is the only student from Mississippi to receive a Goldwater Scholarship this year.

Named in honor of Sen. Barry Goldwater, the one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

The scholarship program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

“Students chosen for a Goldwater Scholarship far exceed faculty expectations, and Diane Bravenec is no exception,” said Dr. Lee Lewis Maggio, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Millsaps. “Diane’s thirst for understanding every facet of a subject has driven her to excel in her classes, research, and extracurricular activities well preparing her to pursue a career in chemistry. Through her research, creative writing and equestrian activities that take her to local, national, and international events, Diane personifies the Millsaps model of learning and leading across the street and around the globe."

Bravenec serves as president of the Millsaps chapter of Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society and is a member of the national mathematics honor society, Pi Mu Epsilon, and the national English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. She is a writing juror for The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

She is pursuing two projects as part of the Honors Program at Millsaps. One project, supervised by Dr. Timothy Ward, professor of chemistry and director of The W.M. Keck Center for Instrumental and Biochemical Comparative Archaeology, focuses on developing analytical chemistry methods for trace residues with applications in archaeology. A second project, supervised by Dr. George Bey, professor of sociology and anthropology and Chisholm Foundation Chair of Arts and Sciences, focuses on technology in science fiction.

Bravenec has worked in The W.M. Keck Center for Instrumental and Biochemical Comparative Archaeology since her freshmen year, including pursuing research during the summer.

She has presented her research in Chicago at Pittcon 2014, the world’s largest annual conference and exposition for laboratory science, and in New Orleans at Pittcon 2015 as well as at the 245th American Chemical Society National Meeting and Exposition and the 2015 Millsaps Student Science Research Symposium. She will present collaborative research at the 2015 Society for American Archaeology.

Bravenec plans to earn a doctorate in chemistry, either in analytical, theoretical, physical, or astrochemistry so that she can work in industry and later teach at a research university.

Bravenec said she was delighted to learn she had been selected as a Goldwater Scholar.

“It's an incredible encouragement for me to continue research and to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry,” she said. “I'd like to thank everyone in the chemistry department for their support, especially Dr. Lee Maggio for nominating me for the Goldwater Scholarship, Dr. Kristina Stensaas, and my research advisor Dr. Timothy Ward.”

Two-hundred-sixty scholarships were awarded for the 2015–2016 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,206 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred forty-five of the scholars are men, 115 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Thirty-four scholars are mathematics majors, 154 are science and related majors, 68 are majoring in engineering, and four are computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines.

Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 86 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Awards, 123 Churchill Scholarships, and numerous other distinguished fellowships such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.

Bravenec is the daughter of Dr. Timothy Ward and Karen Ward.