Scranton Student Awarded Goldwater Scholarship


     University of Scranton biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major Maria A. Gubbiotti of Falls is among just 278 sophomore and junior college students in the nation awarded a highly competitive Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the 2010/2011 academic year.  A member of Scranton’s class of 2011, she is one of only 13 students from Pennsylvania to be awarded a scholarship and one of only six attending a Jesuit university nationally.

     Gubbiotti joins classmate Melissa Wasilewski of Clarks Summit as Scranton’s second current Goldwater Scholar and is the eighth University of Scranton student in the last eight years to earn this coveted honor. (Wasilewski, who was named a Goldwater Scholar last year as a sophomore, received the scholarship for both her junior and senior years at Scranton.)

     The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship program for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering according to Mary Engel, Ph.D., director of health-professional school placement and fellowship programs at The University of Scranton.

     The 2010 Goldwater scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from 1,111 mathematics, science and engineering applicants, who were nominated by the faculties of their colleges and universities.

     A full-tuition Presidential Scholar at The University of Scranton, Gubbiotti maintains a 4.0 G.P.A. as a member of the Honor’s Program. She received Scranton’s Frank O’Hara Awards in 2008 and 2009 in recognition of having the highest grade point average in the College of Arts and Sciences.

     Gubbiotti has participated in the Faculty Student Research Program since her first year at Scranton. Her faculty mentor is Timothy Foley, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and the Goldwater Scholarship faculty advisor at Scranton.

     Dr. Foley refers to Gubbiotti as one of “the most amazing students” he has encountered at Scranton.

     “Not only is Maria a gifted student researcher but she has given up much of her time helping to train other students in the lab and helping me deliver my instructional biochemistry laboratory,” said Dr. Foley. “She has played a key role in the development of a method that will allow us and others to understand better the role of sulfur oxidation-reduction reactions in the control of protein function in health and disease and is now taking that work a step further.”

     Gubbiotti explains her research with Dr. Foley as “isolating and identifying proteins in the brain that contain oxidative stress-sensitive molecular switches in order to gain a biochemical understanding of how proteins respond to oxidative stress under both normal and disease conditions.” 

     “It is a little piece of the puzzle that could contribute to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s or other degenerative diseases,” said Gubbiotti.

     Through this research, she co-authored a paper published in the journal, Neurochemical Research. She also presented a study entitled “Identification of the brain synaptic protein SNAP-25 as a candidate redox receptor” alongside graduate and post-doctoral researchers at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

     Gubbiotti earned a University of Scranton Presidential Fellowship for research in the summer of 2008. 

     “Maria stepped into my lab at the end of her freshman year and was off and running that summer as a rare freshman winner of the University Presidential Summer Research Fellowship,” said Dr. Foley.

     In the summer of 2009, she was awarded a Penn State College of Medicine Summer Undergraduate Research Internship. During her internship, she worked to establish methods to examine the process of protein degradation.

     A dean’s list student, Gubbiotti is a member of Alpha Lamba Delta (National Freshman Honor Society), Alpha Epsilon Delta (National Health Preprofessional Honor Society) and Alpha Sigma Nu (National Jesuit Honor Society). She is active in the Health Professions Organization, the Biochemistry/Chemistry Club and the Students Honors Council. She serves as a tutor in the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and as a teaching assistant for the university’s summer Leadership and Civic Responsibilities Seminar. An accomplished equestrian, she is a member of Scranton’s Equestrian Team. 

     She also volunteers at Moses Taylor Hospital.

     After graduation in 2011, she plans to pursue post-graduate studies in an M.D./Ph.D. program. 

     Gubbiotti was valedictorian of her graduating class at Wyoming Area High School. She is the daughter of Linda and Frank Gubbiotti of Falls and has a younger brother, Frank.

     Established in 1986, the Goldwater Foundation Scholarship Program honors the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater. The scholarship program is designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. 

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