Ben Peterson, a junior biochemistry major, recently became one of 275 students nationwide to be granted the prestigious national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in recognition of his scientific research.
The scholarship, which only 15 Geneseo students have won since 1992, is an assurance (based on academic merit) that the student's tuition, fees, room and board and books will be covered up to $7,500 for a year.
The award was created in 1986 in honor of former senator Barry Goldwater as a way to provide aspiring, well-qualified, young scientists and mathematicians with a way to continue their work in an easier fashion. It is given to those who intend to continue working in their fields of research after college.
Peterson's work focused on brassica, the genus of plants that includes broccoli and kale, and examined how they work on a chemical level.
"I started doing research as a sophomore," Peterson said. "I'm planning on getting a Ph.D., then going to a university to do research and to teach."
Though he said he is unsure of where he will focus his work post-graduation, Peterson added that he wants to continue working in the same vein of research here for his senior year – figuring out the inner workings of brassica plants, their cell metabolism and metabolic processes.
His research, which is mostly conducted under biology professor George Briggs, is a shift from the original idea of gene expression. Briggs and Peterson have examined chemicals produced by certain genes and how they work as defense mechanisms that protect the plants against herbivores.
Now that Peterson has personalized the research, it is more focused on the metabolic structures of the plants and how they process chemicals. His work also deals with how the plants respond to stimuli and how their proteins are involved with those situations.
"I was really excited about [winning the award]," Peterson said. "It's going to be a really big help next year."