May 2, 2018

CONTACT:    Laura Seals, 806-651-2587, lseals@wtamu.edu

COPY BY:    Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

WTAMU’s Esposito Earns Honorable Mention in Goldwater Competition


CANYON, Texas—An interest in mathematics, physics and chemistry has paid off for one West Texas A&M University student. Mark Esposito, a senior with a double major in chemistry and biology and a minor in mathematics, is one of seven students from the state of Texas to receive an honorable mention in this year’s Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship competition.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 as a memorial to the work of Sen. Barry Goldwater and his 30 years in the U.S. Congress. The highly competitiveMark Esposito scholarship is designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. This year, 211 scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year were awarded and an additional 281 nominees from across the country were named as Honorable Mentions. In addition to WTAMU’s Esposito, other Texas schools represented by Honorable Mention students include Lamar University, Rice University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech and the University of North Texas.

“Mark is a standout student, and faculty members have gone out of their way to talk with me about how impressed they are with him,” Laura Seals, director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships, said. “He has created a reputation for himself with his work ethic and independence in the lab. Mark is energized by the idea of working in research and clearly motivated to strive for advances in his field. He certainly deserves recognition as he meets the Goldwater Foundation goals. I believe he will be a leader in his field, he is definitely off to a strong start as a Goldwater Honorable Mention."

Esposito, who calls Amarillo home, came to WTAMU with plans to follow in his father’s footsteps and go to medical school. Many of his pre-med classes included chemistry and through his coursework, Esposito discovered a true passion for chemistry as well as physics and mathematics. Plans for medical school were forgotten as he dug deeper into his classes and began working with faculty members on research projects.

“Ideally, there would be one field that includes all three—chemistry, physics and mathematics,” Esposito said. “That doesn’t exist, so I kind of just dug my foot in all of them.”

And dig he did. Esposito’s current research involves creating inorganic coordination complexes under the direction of Dr. Jason Yarbrough, assistant professor of chemistry. The research involves taking harmful carbon dioxide emissions and turning them into something useful.

“I’m very pleased to hear this news [of Esposito’s Honorable Mention],” Yarbrough said. “I am however, not surprised. Mark is a remarkable student.”

He’s also finishing up a final manuscript on mathematics research focused on a Chinese remainder theorem with Dr. Qingquan Wu, instructor of mathematics at WTAMU. Esposito also has worked with Yarbrough and Dr. Catherine Clewett, associate professor of physics, on synthesizing metal organic frameworks for filtration processes.

“Mark has impressed me with his ability in the lab,” Clewett said. “His facility at learning and retaining techniques continues to astound me. He is incredibly knowledgeable about his work and definitely has the stamina and maturity to continue in a research career in the natural sciences.”

Esposito is a candidate for graduation in May 2019. He plans to go to graduate school and hopes to eventually earn a Ph.D. His career goal is to conduct research in quantum dots which are used for medical imaging of cancerous tumors or in solar energy among other things.

For more information about scholarship opportunities like the Goldwater Scholarship, contact Seals at 806-651-2587 or lseals@wtamu.edu.



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