Our Stories

Brandon B. SmithBrandon B. Smith

Presidential Scholars Named

Brandon B. Smith and Lori Northcraft have been named Willamette's Presidential Senior Scholars for 2003. The Presidential Senior Scholar Awards enable outstanding students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.7 and higher to pursue a substantial research project in their senior year. In addition to grade point average, Presidential Scholars are selected on the strength of their research proposal, intellectual caliber and independence of character. The scholarships provide a $2,500 summer stipend and a full semester's tuition in the senior year and or a $5,000 graduate fellowship.

"The application process for the Presidential Scholar Award was one of the most challenging experiences I've had," says Smith. "This scholarship makes it feasible for me to do some intense research."

Smith's proposed project is entitled "An Investigation of the Solvation Shell Structure in the Methanol-Carbon Disulfide Binary Liquid System." Smith, currently a junior chemistry major, will study the interactions between molecules in a methanol and carbon disulfide liquid mixture using Laser Raman spectroscopy.

"There are many unanswered questions about liquids," explains Smith. "For instance, we know that Italian dressing left to sit will separate into two separate layers, but we don't know why. My research will help us better understand the ways liquids interact on the molecular level and may help facilitate advances in the chemical industry."

After graduating from Willamette, Smith plans to pursue a graduate degree in physical chemistry.

Northcraft, a junior with a major in exercise science and a minor in Spanish, is studying the socioeconomic and cultural influences of the occupational health care decisions of Hispanic farm workers. According to Northcraft, Hispanic farm workers are particularly susceptible to on-the-job back injuries. She's interested in finding out what factors influence whether or not they seek medical treatment. She plans to create an informational booklet on preventing occupational injuries for farm workers. To help remove barriers to seeking medical care, she will also share her research findings with area health care providers.

"Studying abroad in Spain increased my interest in utilizing my Spanish language skills and in learning more about the Hispanic subculture in the United States," says Northcraft. "This award will allow me to work on a personal level with Oregon's growing Hispanic population and enable me to study first-hand the debilitating effects of untreated labor-related injuries."

After graduating from Willamette, Northcraft plans to pursue a doctor of physical therapy degree. She wants to work as a physical therapist and use her Spanish skills to work with Spanish-speaking clients and their families.