2012 Goldwater Scholars Announced; 4 Univ. of Miami Students Honored

WASHINGTON — April 11, 2012 — The prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Foundation announced the recipients of its annual scholarships. Among those recognized as 2012 Goldwater Scholars are the following University of Miami (UM) students: Christopher Sanchez (Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy); Ian Ergui (College of Arts & Sciences); and Juan Pablo Ruiz (College of Engineering). Christine Chesley (Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science) also received an Honorable Mention in recognition of her academic achievements. The goal of this prestigious program 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.

Sanchez is majoring in Environmental Science and Policy with a focus on Anthropology, through UM’s Abess Center. The Center brings resources from various schools and departments at UM together with external scientists, policy makers, and planners, to offer comprehensive research concerning the most pressing environmental questions we face today. Aside from working with UM faculty, Sanchez is collaborating with scientists at Florida International University (FIU) and Arizona State University’s (ASU) School of Sustainability.

“Chris shows a level of tenacity rare even to established scientists,” said Dr. Evelyn Gaiser, FIU faculty member and Principal Investigator of the NSF Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program, in which Sanchez has been active since high school.

Dr. Amelia Moore, UM visiting professor of anthropology at the Abess Center and coordinator of the Rosenstiel School’s Master’s in Professional Science – Coastal Sustainability Program adds: “Chris is an excellent and dedicated student who is committed to using an interdisciplinary framework to address complex social and environmental issues. His passions have lead him to the intersection of environmental studies and anthropology, and this interest will continue to enable him to develop deeply empathetic, aware, creative and sustainable ideas for urban living.”

Fellow Goldwater recipient Ergui intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Human Genetics and Genomics, then start a company dedicated to creating genetically modified organisms for use in medicine and industry. And Goldwater Scholar Ruiz aims to conduct stem cell and tissue engineering research for regenerative medicine and teach at the University level.

In recommending Chesley, UM Physics professor, Dr. James Nearing said, “I like it when I can learn something from a student, and I have with her ... Christine does not simply accept a quick explanation, but will dig into the foundations. This is one of those rare cases where I honestly expect to hear about her accomplishments in the field in a decade or two.” Chesley has been accepted into the School’s competitive 5-year BS/MS program in Marine Geology and will be working with geologist Dr. Hal Wanless on research pertaining to magma and plate tectonics.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986. A complete list of scholars and honorable mentions can be viewed at

About the University of Miami
The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. For more information, please visit

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