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Boston College Student Christopher Sheridan
Wins Coveted Goldwater Scholarship

Chestnut Hill, Mass. (4-11-11) -- Boston College junior Christopher Sheridan, a biochemistry and philosophy major in BC’s College of Arts & Sciences Honors Program, has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, considered the premier undergraduate fellowship in the sciences.

2011 Goldwater Scholar Chris Sheridan

Goldwater Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit to the country’s most promising college students in math, science and engineering. Only twenty-five percent of the more than 1,000 sophomores and juniors who vied for 2011 Goldwater Scholarships were so honored. Many Goldwater Scholars go on to earn the top post-graduate fellowships, including Rhodes, Marshall, and Churchill scholarships, and numerous others.

Sheridan is enrolled in the University’s Presidential Scholars Program, an integrated educational experience for top students that involves service learning, international experience and professional internships. In addition to his studies, Sheridan has served as an editor of Elements, Boston College’s undergraduate research journal.

“It’s very rewarding to see this kind of appreciation for the work you do,” said Sheridan. “It can be easy to lose sight of what you’re striving for, but to receive a unique and prestigious honor like this represents a great opportunity.”

Sheridan’s specific interest lies in studying the human brain, from both a scientific and humanistic standpoint. He sees this dual approach as integral to a future career in medicine and research, most likely focused on the emerging field of neuroimaging.

“Our scientific understanding of disease, and the human body, is advancing so rapidly,” said Sheridan. “The danger is that this makes it easy to see patients in overly definitive terms, rather than appreciate them as people with distinct characteristics and needs. I felt I should ground myself thoroughly in the chemistry of the brain, but train to think like a philosopher as well — to keep the questions framed in human terms, rather than cells and molecules. With a focus on neuroimaging, asking these questions can help us to learn more about major psychiatric disorders, to more thoroughly translate detailed clinical descriptions of classically ‘mental’ diseases with biological and chemical targets in the live brain, giving molecular biologists and geneticists more tractable targets  — and, ultimately, leading to more effective therapies.”

Last summer, Sheridan completed a German language immersion program at Munich’s Goethe Institute — strengthening his study of philosophy.

“Chris uses his first-rate intellect to serve an exemplary thoughtfulness about the responsibilities that come with unusual talent,” said College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program Director Mark O’Connor. “This starts with his willingness to engage so well the 'two cultures' of science and the humanities. His commitment to intellectual inquiry, above all his concern for what such inquiry can mean for improving the quality of life both materially and spiritually, inspires the research he does into complex brain functions — and makes him a worthy recipient of such a prestigious award as a Goldwater.”

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the late Senator Barry Goldwater, and to help encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.