Two UNC-Chapel Hill students recognized by Goldwater Foundation

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program named University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill third-year student Chiara Pancaldo Salemi as a 2016 Goldwater Scholar and Mike Lebhar, also a third-year student, as a 2016 Goldwater Honorable Mention.

This prestigious scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for eligible educational expenses to students who excel in academics and who plan to pursue research careers in science, mathematics, engineering and computer disciplines.

“My congratulations go to Chiara and Mike on their prestigious recognition from the Goldwater Foundation,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “They are perfect examples of next generation leaders and problem solvers who make an impact on a global scale. The diversity of their research, encompassing simulations as well as programming and data analysis, sets them apart as pioneers charting a new course for future breakthroughs in physics, mathematics and engineering.”

For 2016, the foundation selected 252 scholarship recipients. Salemi and Lebhar were chosen from a field of 1,150 students who were nominated by colleges and universities nationwide.

“Both students have exceptional academic qualifications and substantial practical research experience,” said Jason Reed, associate professor of biology and chair of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Goldwater selection committee.

Chiara Salemi (photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)
Chiara Salemi (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Salemi, 20, is from Chapel Hill and is double majoring in physics and mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her research in nuclear and particle physics has taken her around the world. Salemi just returned from a semester abroad in Geneva where she analyzed data from the ATLAS detector, used in the search for fundamental particles, at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN.

She also spent a summer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California where she completed a research internship on a neutrinoless double-beta decay experiment.

Salemi has presented her work at talks at the Berkeley lab, at CERN and at the American Physical Society Conference. She plans to attend graduate school and study nuclear particle physics.

Mike Lebhar (photo by Jon Gardiner)
Mike Lebhar (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Lebhar, 21, is from Naples, Florida, and is majoring in biomedical engineering with minors in chemistry and neuroscience from the College of Arts and Sciences. He hopes to earn his doctoral degree and one day design artificial organs as tools for experimentation and drug screening. He is doing research on a “colon-on-a-chip” in vitro model of the colon functions. He is characterizing how well this model mimics a real colon and will then use the model to explore various questions about colon physiology.

In addition to his academic and research pursuits, Lebhar is also active in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Helping Hand Project to design and 3-D print prosthetic hands at low costs for patients in need.

Congress established the Goldwater scholarship program in 1986 to honor the late Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona who served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years. The first awards were given in 1989.

Click here for more information on UNC-Chapel Hill’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships.