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Philipa Njau

College: City College
Awards: Goldwater Scholarship, 2005

Getting Down to the Molecules

Philipa A. Njau, an honors student majoring in biochemistry at The City College of New York, was named a 2005 Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Njau, who was born in Tanzania and graduated from high school in Kenya, was one of 320 college sophomores and juniors chosen for the prestigious award, which carries a $7,500 stipend. She was selected from a field of 1,091 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

"This is an immense honor for me, and I would like to thank my mentor, Dr. Mark Steinberg, and others who have guided me at City College," said Njau, now a Harlem resident. She aspires to pursue a PhD and work as a research scientist in the biophysical and biochemical fields.

"I would like to spend my professional life trying to understand the structure and function of molecules, to understand proteins and how they fold to their functional units. Such an aspiration would require an understanding of the physical laws that govern such a premise, as well as the molecular properties of the particles in question. I'd also love to teach," she added.

Her research under David Gosser and Themis Lazaridis, both from the Chemistry Department at City College, has focused on the interaction of molecules with one another.

Njau, who enrolled in City College in 2001, has received several awards from the college, including the MARC/RISE Scholarship, the E.Y. "Yip" Harburg Alumni Association Scholarship, the City College Scholars Award and the CCNY Black Alumni's William Wright Scholarship.

With the award to Njau, City College chemistry majors have won Goldwater Scholarships in two consecutive years. Lev A. Sviridov, who is also a 2005 Rhodes Scholar, earned a Goldwater Scholarship in 2004. Previous Goldwater Scholars at City College include Wilmert Pereyra (Electrical Engineering, 1995), Catherine Okonji (Biology, 1996), Shiv N. Singh (Chemical Engineering/Economics, 1997) and Sendy S. Louis (Chemical Engineering, 1998).

Congress established The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the Senate. The Virginia-based foundation's purpose 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 these fields.