Kovic is College’s fourth Goldwater winner in five years

Goldwater winner Yumi Kovic '14 (right) with Marc Zimmer, the Tempel Professor of Physical Sciences at Connecticut College.
Goldwater winner Yumi Kovic '14 (right) with Marc Zimmer, the Tempel Professor of Physical Sciences at Connecticut College.

Junior Yumi Kovic has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, making her the College’s fourth recipient of the prestigious award in the last five years.

The Goldwater Scholarship, authorized by the United States Congress in 1986 in honor of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in science, mathematics or engineering. Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit to receive a one-year scholarship of up to $7,500.

“This prestigious national recognition reflects the quality of science education at Connecticut College – and the dedication and efforts of Yumi and her professors,” said President Leo I. Higdon Jr.

A Science Leader from Norwich, Conn., Kovic is a biochemistry major with an interest in immunological sciences. She plans to pursue an M.D. and Ph.D. in biochemistry. (Connecticut College’s Science Leaders program is designed to prepare women and other underrepresented students for careers in the sciences.)

Kovic says her dream job would be practicing medicine in a teaching hospital where she could research autoimmune diseases.

“It has always fascinated me that a leading cause of disease is our own cells,” she said.

Kovic’s interest in research stems from an unforgettable first-year seminar experience. Her class traveled to Vieques, Puerto Rico, to study Bioluminescence Bay (so-called because of the bay’s one-celled organisms that fluoresce when disturbed). 

“The water surrounding our bodies would light up as we swam through the bay on that starry evening,” she said. “It was one of those moments when I realized how incredible science is.”

At Connecticut College, Kovic has conducted research with several professors and worked for two years in the lab of Bruce Branchini, the McCollum-Vahlteich Professor of Chemistry at Connecticut College, who studies bioluminescence, or the emission of light by living organisms.

Kovic says her professors are a consistent source of motivation and support for her and her peers. 

“Most of us are performing graduate-level research with professors we love, which is something that is unique to Conn,” she said.

April 23, 2013