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Goldwater Scholarship Awarded to Brogan

05/07/15
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James Brogan (Photo by Robyn Geesk)

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: May 7, 2015

James Brogan ’16, a double major in physics and chemistry who plans to one day develop new techniques to treat illness and disease, has received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, considered the premier undergraduate award in the sciences.

Goldwater Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit to the country’s most promising college students in math, science and engineering. Many Goldwater Scholars go on to earn prestigious post-graduate scholarships, including Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill scholarships, and many others.

This year, 260 sophomores and juniors were selected from among 1,206 nominees. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

“I am honored to have been recognized by the Goldwater Scholarship Program,” said Brogan, a native of Coral Springs, Fla., who plans doctoral study in physics and to attend medical school. “Winning the Goldwater Scholarship is a testament to the quality of research and advising that is available at Boston College. My mentors have prepared me extremely well for my future goal of attending an MD-PhD program.”

He has also received a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to travel this summer to Peru, where he will study Spanish and work in local hospitals to develop his bilingual medical vocabulary.

Brogan conducts research in the lab of Professor of Chemistry Paul Davidovits, where he develops experiments to model the behavior of aerosol particulate in the atmosphere and the potential effects on human health.

“I have spent the past two years working in the atmospheric chemistry laboratory of Professor Davidovits, where I have matured into a scientist,” Brogan said. “Before attending Boston College, I never envisioned myself as a scientific researcher, but I read about Professor Davidovits’ research and was so interested that I decided to try something new. The mentorship of Professor Davidovits and his postdoctoral associates, Andrew Lambe and Lindsay Renbaum-Wolff, sculpted me into the research scientist I am today.”

In the Davidovits lab, Brogan has planned experiments, collaborated with scientists from universities across the globe, and worked through scientific problems to find solutions.

Brogan has co-authored a report in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, submitted another manuscript and presented his findings at two of BC’s annual undergraduate research poster sessions. He was a student presenter at BC’s Symposium in Global Public Health last December.

He plans to combine his physics and medical degrees toward an academic career devoted to advancing techniques and training in medical physics.

“Physics will provide me with a powerful set of problem-solving skills that are applicable to a wide variety of problems, while an MD will provide me with a profound understanding of the way the human body functions,” Brogan said. “With an MD and a PhD in physics, I will be well-equipped with all of the skills necessary to achieve my research goals as a medical physicist.”

Brogan said he’s welcomed the challenge to find new solutions ever since he arrived as a freshman. The lecturer Leslie D. Servi challenged his Calculus II class to find new ways to express pi in terms of nested square roots of two. He worked closely with the professor and spent hours on the project. In the end, he discovered three new solutions.

In addition to Davidovits and his research team, Brogan credited his academic success to Research Associate Professor Andrzej Herczynski in Physics, and Professors David McFadden and Mary Roberts in Chemistry.

“I’m grateful for the support of my friends and family throughout my endeavors,” said Brogan. “Otherwise, I would not be able to stay motivated to the level that I have been over my three years at Boston College.”