Sara Katrancha, a sophomore biochemistry major at Duquesne University, received an honorable mention for the Goldwater Scholarship for 2011.
The impressive scholarship is given annually to sophomores and juniors in engineering, computer science, mathematics and science to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue studies in these fields.
Katrancha is the first Duquesne student to achieve this designation, according to Dr. Lewis Irwin, coordinator of the Office for National Fellowships.
“It’s a nationally prestigious award,” Irwin said. “The Goldwater Scholarship is aimed at increasing math, science and engineering proficiency within American society. Its goal is to promote the study of those disciplines, so they’re looking at the top students in their respective fields. The fact that Sara has been named as an honorable mention indicates that she has a very bright future within her field of biochemistry.”
Besides holding an excellent quality point average and an impressive list of honors and awards, Katrancha is an Honors College student from Dunlo, Cambria County, who was valedictorian in her class at Forest Hills High School and “has a very detailed and very robust research agenda,” Irwin said.
At Duquesne, Katrancha has been involved in research with Dr. Rita Mihailescu in the Bayer School, analyzing the RNA binding properties of peptides that play a role in Fragile X syndrome, the most prevalent genetic cause of mental retardation.
“I am not surprised that Sara received the honorable mention for the Goldwater Scholarship for 2011,” Mihailescu said. “She has a very inquisitive mind, her genuine interest in her research comes across from the type of questions she asks, and more importantly, tries to answer herself by reading more on the particular subject.
Katrancha, who is studying abroad in Italy this semester, said in her application that her motivation to be involved in biomedical research stems from her brother having a genetic disability.