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Len Evans, Daven Quinn and Sendhilnathan “Hari” Ramalingam, juniors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have won 2010 Goldwater Scholarships, among the nation’s most prestigious for undergraduate study.

Len Evans, Daven Quinn and Sendhilnathan “Hari” Ramalingam, juniors at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have won 2010 Goldwater Scholarships, among the nation’s most prestigious for undergraduate study.

The awards go to outstanding college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program of Springfield, Va., recently announced 278 award recipients. Colleges and universities had nominated 1,111 students for the honor.

Congress established the program in 1986 to honor the late Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, who served in the U.S. Senate for 30 years.

The scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses. Sophomores receive two years of support; juniors, one year. Scholars are chosen for intellectual curiosity and intensity and potential for significant future contributions in their fields.

This year’s recipients bring the number of Goldwater Scholars from Carolina to 39 since the first awards were made in 1989.

Evans, the son of Michael Evans and Yoshiko Pakahashi of Fresno Calif., grew up mostly in Charlotte. He graduated in 2007 from the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham. Physics fascinates him.

“Before beginning physics research, I had a narrow-minded view that there were not many problems left to solve,” he said. “I now realize that there are still fundamental interactions of the universe that we do not understand.”

Bent on a research career in nuclear physics, Evans said his type of work will help scientists better understand how the universe was formed. Besides physics itself, he has learned computer programming and how to use programs used in nuclear and particle physics. Evans wrote a journal article about his work that was published in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B, a scientific journal.

He is proficient in Japanese and plays classical guitar. Evans also is president of UNC’s Quiz Bowl team and an editor for the undergraduate science magazine Carolina Scientific.

Quinn graduated in 2007 from Northwest Cabarrus High School in Concord and won a Carolina Scholars award to UNC – one of several types of four-year merit scholarships  that UNC awards to admitted students. The son of Robert and Smita Quinn of Concord, he is double-majoring in geology and economics.

Last summer Quinn studied planetary geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii, for which he won a competitive grant funded by NASA. In August, he collected samples and photos from Yosemite National Park, from which he is researching mineral layering in granite. Quinn hopes to become a planetary geologist, one that investigates the makeup of other planets – their structure, surface composition and all the things required for planetary exploration.

 “It is important to gain experience observing igneous petrology on the Earth if one is to have any idea of what to expect on the moon or Mars,” he said. For the uninitiated, igneous petrology is the study of volcanic rock.

Ramalingam, the son of B. and Jamuna Ramalingam of Cary, graduated from William G. Enloe High School in Raleigh in 2007. He studies colorectal cancer in a medical school lab. He seeks to determine whether a protein in the colon called SOX9 is a marker for cancer stem cells, which some scientists believe give rise to and maintain tumors.

“Chemotherapy targets the fast-dividing progenitor (cancer) cells rather than the potentially slowly dividing cancer stem cells,” Ramalingam said. To date, no definitive cancer stem cell marker has been found for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Better understanding the biology of colorectal tumors could lead to new therapies for the disease, Ramalingam said.

A biostatistics and biology major, Ramalingam hopes to become a doctor who both sees patients and conducts research. At UNC, he is in a pre-med fraternity, a student folk dance group and an umbrella organization for 20 student minority groups.

“Lenny Evans, Hari Ramalingam, and Daven Quinn are engaged citizens and students of exceptional scientific ability,” said Jason Reed, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology and chair of the faculty committee that chose UNC’s Goldwater nominees. “We are extremely pleased that their considerable promise as scientists has been recognized.”

Goldwater Foundation Web page:

Note: Reed can be reached at (919) 962-5699 or; Evans, at; Quinn, at; and Ramalingam, at

Photo URLs:



Office of Distinguished Scholarships contact: Linda Dykstra, Ph.D., (919) 962-6595,
News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589

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