Prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Awarded to Undergraduate Student at Colorado State University

Note to Reporters: A photo of Katy Benson is available with the news release at

Katy Hooper Benson, a biochemistry and Spanish double major, has been selected as a 2010 recipient of the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

The Goldwater Scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for the final one or two years of undergraduate study. The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to outstanding students who plan to pursue careers in natural science, mathematics or engineering.

The program continues to become more competitive. More than 1,100 applicants sought the scholarship, but only 278 were awarded on the basis of academic merit, said Heather Esterday, director of the university’s Nationally Competitive Scholarship Programs office.

Biomedical Science majors Melanie Schow and Jennifer Sneden received a 2010 Honorable Mention.

Benson, a senior from Littleton, has worked in the biochemistry laboratory of University Distinguished Professor Karolin Luger since March 2009, studying nucleosome thermodynamics. Benson is an Honors Program participant, and the second author on a paper describing a novel and surprising role for the histone variant H2A.Z in modulating chromatin structure, which will be submitted for publication later this year.

After graduation, Benson plans to pursue a doctoral degree in biochemistry. Her professional aspirations are a career in academia and research.

“Without question, Katy is an outstanding young scientist,” Luger said in her recommendation. “However, perhaps her ‘best’ feature, and the one that will make her succeed in life even in the face of adversity, is her positive attitude. Katy has tremendous potential for a career in the biological/quantitative sciences. She will be a terrific role model for other young women who might think science is ‘uncool.’ Katy makes science look cool.”

Schow, a junior from Monument, works in the lab of Stuart Tobet, researching vascular development at the top of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Sneden, a senior from Centennial, works in the lab of Dr. Randall Basaraba studying basic pathogenesis of human tuberculosis in animal models and protein antigens that may prove beneficial in the diagnosis and prevention of tuberculosis.