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The University of Alabama

UA Among Top Universities in Enrollment of Goldwater Scholars; Four Students Receive Elite Award

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama scored a perfect four out of four with Goldwater Scholars as all four UA students who applied have been named 2011 recipients of the elite academic award.

UA Goldwater Scholars Paige Dexter, Matthew Kelley, Mitchell Hughes and Jessica Duke.

“All four of our nominees for the Goldwater Scholarship received the award this year. That is the first time in UA history we have received four,” said Dr. Gary Sloan, UA professor and coordinator of prestige scholarships and awards.

UA is among only five schools, including Princeton, Arizona State, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and the University of Washington, with the maximum number of students named Goldwater Scholars for 2011.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence Foundation selected UA students Paige Dexter, Jessica Duke, Mitchell Hughes and Matthew Kelley, among 275 students nationwide to receive the scholarships covering the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year. The students, all in UA’s College of Arts and Sciences, were chosen from a group of 1,095 nominees.

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

UA’s 2011 Goldwater Scholars are:

Paige Dexter, a biology major and German minor from Enterprise who is focusing on biomedical research and molecular biology. In her research at UA, she is using a microscopic worm model to study genetic factors that may impact an individual’s susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease. A member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Dexter also serves as assistant editor for JOSHUA, The Journal for Science and Health at the University of Alabama. She is a member of Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society and the UA Honors College.

Jessica Duke, a chemistry major from Birmingham who plans on a career in physical chemistry research focused on solving environmental problems. A 2010 Hollings Scholar, she is a member of the Computer-Based Honors Program and Gamma Sigma Epsilon chemistry honor society. She is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society and has received both the Randall Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award and the Computer-Based Honors Outstanding student award twice.

Mitchell Hughes, a physics and math major from Homewood who is minoring in German and Computer-Based Honors with a 4.0 (all As) GPA. In his research, Hughes is studying a very rare nuclear reaction known as neutrinoless double beta-decay. He plans to attend graduate school and pursue a doctorate in experimental nuclear or particle physics with a career in research as his goal. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and numerous honor societies, he also received a Randall Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award, the Charles Seebeck Endowed Scholarship and a Computer-Based Honors Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award.

Matthew Kelley, a chemistry and math major from Des Moines, Iowa, specializing in physical and computational chemistry. Kelley plans to attend graduate school and study surface chemistry and its applications to materials and information technology. He is also a Hollings Scholar recipient and a member of UA’s Computer Based Honors Program, Gamma Sigma Epsilon chemistry honor society, and the Society of Physics Students.  He has received the Randall Undergraduate Research Award and several outstanding student awards in chemistry.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Linda Hill, media relations, 205/348-8325,
  • SOURCE: Dr. Gary Sloan, professor of biological sciences and UA coordinator of prestige scholarships and awards, 205/348-8444,