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NMSU biochemistry student wins prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

A New Mexico State University undergraduate majoring in biochemistry is one of only three New Mexico college students to be awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for 2012.


Portrait photo of Charles Margarit
NMSU biochemistry student Charles Margarit is one of three New Mexico students selected for a Goldwater Scholarship. He also is the only New Mexico winner attending a university in the state. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Charles Margarit was selected from a pool of more than 1,100 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated for the scholarship. More than 250 students from across the nation were awarded Goldwater Scholarships. Of the three New Mexico students selected for the prize, Margarit is the only one attending a university in the state.

"This is a very prestigious scholarship for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students and Charles obviously brings much credit to NMSU," said Bill Eamon, dean of the NMSU Honors College, which shepherded Margarit through the application process.

The scholarships are awarded through the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, which was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the late Sen. Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona.

The purpose of the program is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in those fields. The one- and two-year scholarships for juniors and seniors cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

"I wasn't expecting to win the scholarship to be quite honest, so when I found out I was a bit in shock," said Margarit, a native of Las Cruces. "The next thing I did was to call my wife and tell her the good news. The rest of the day was just happy thoughts and good feelings."

Margarit, who is set to graduate in May 2013, is considering pursuing a medical degree or a Ph.D. in pharmacology in order to conduct drug development research. He also is interested in earning a doctorate in inorganic/materials chemistry, as well as conducting research and developing new energy sources.

As part of the Goldwater Scholarship application process, Margarit had to write an essay related to his field of study. He wrote about a project involving a metal compound he synthesized that could potentially lead to the development of a new, more efficient method of industrial ammonia production. Margarit credits his adviser, Jeremy Smith, an NMSU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, for guiding him through his research.

"I truly could not have won this prize without Dr. Smith's help," Margarit said. "Having this scholarship is definitely a resume booster, and I believe it will help to earn acceptance into top university programs, which in turn will help build my career."

Margarit praises the Honors College for successfully helping him through the application process. He is particularly grateful to Mark Andersen, director of the Office of National Scholarships and International Education at the Honors College.

"Our main focus is to provide students with one-on-one advising and mentoring to help them maximize their chances of winning prestigious national scholarships and fellowships," Andersen said.

Having an NMSU student earn a Goldwater Scholarship shows that NMSU's "science and engineering programs are very strong, and we have a good number of students who are being prepared for successful careers in the sciences," Andersen said.

"Quality affordable education in STEM and agricultural disciplines is a major focus of NMSU's land-grant mission," he added. "The Goldwater Scholarships reward excellence in those areas."

For more information on the Office of National Scholarships and International Education at NMSU's Honors College, log onto http://honors.nmsu.edu.