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Gerald and Sally DeNardo Senior Prize in Science Research 2008

Established in 2007 to complement the Gerald and Sally DeNardo Lectureship, this prize is given by the Dean to recognize outstanding science research accomplishment by a graduating senior who reflects the distinctive characteristics of a Jesuit education and is pursuing a career in the health sciences.

The 2008 DeNardo Senior Prize is awarded to Ashton Easterday.  Ashton is a first generation college student, born and raised in a remote farming area of Washington.  Ashton has been awarded several scholarships and along with grants, loans, work study and work for pay has financed her own education!  Despite these challenges, she has accumulated a 3.774 grade point average as a Chemistry major (Biochemistry concentration), and has shown a remarkable dedication to biochemistry research during her years at SCU.  (She actually began doing research projects in high school.)  Her research has involved more than one project under the direction of her Chemistry faculty mentor Dr. Ram Subramaniam.  In addition to this regular academic year research over the past three years, Ashton has participated in summer research programs with the SURF and NSF-REU programs.  Her passion for research is deep and long term.  She has presented posters, submitted abstracts, has one publication and recently submitted another paper for publication as primary author.  Her work is very important in research into human diabetes. 

Ashton plans to pursue a PhD in biochemistry beginning in Fall 2009.  Her target institution is the University of California, Berkeley.  She found it necessary to take a year off between SCU graduation in June 2008 and Fall 2009 graduate school entry due to her commitments to a study abroad experience in El Salvador this past Fall.  During the crucial graduate school application period she was immersed in social justice projects in El Salvador, and did not want to short-change the quality of that work by spending time distracted by graduate school application.  Ashton is a wonderful inaugural DeNardo Prize recipient, showing great academic talent, a passion for scientific research related to human health, and the deep commitment to social justice so valued by Santa Clara University and Sally and Gerry DeNardo.


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