By CHARLENE SHARPE
The Daily Times of Salisbury
BERLIN, Md. (AP) — A local woman will fulfill a lifelong dream this fall when she crosses the Atlantic Ocean to begin studies at the University of Cambridge.
Dominique Kunciw, a Salisbury University senior and Berlin resident, will be pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry there thanks to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
With the Gates Cambridge award covering her expenses as she pursues her studies, Kunciw will be able to devote herself to studying small molecule drug design. She hopes to one day become a research chemist.
“I want to travel to underdeveloped countries to find cures for diseases,” she said.
Kunciw said she believes her aspirations are what caught the attention of the Gates Cambridge staff members, as the scholarship was created to foster future leaders who want to improve the lives of others, according to its website.
“I want to use my scientific ability to help other people,” she said.
She was one of just 39 U.S. recipients of the award, and said she was extremely surprised to find out she’d been selected last month. Each year, more than 4,000 people throughout the world apply for the award, which was established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.
“You compete against so many smart people,” she said.
Kunciw will graduate from Salisbury University in May with a major in chemistry and minors in math and biology. She spent last summer working on the synthesis of an inhibitor of a chemical warfare nerve agent at Technische UniversitΣt Kaiserslautern through a German academic exchange, according to a SU news release.
In summer 2011, she performed research in peptidomimetics at the ╔cole Normale SupΘrieure in Paris with the National Science Foundation. She has presented her work at Salisbury’s Student Research Conference, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the American Chemical Society’s National Meeting.
University officials are thrilled with Kunciw’s accomplishments.
“The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is a tremendous recognition of her hard work, intellect and willingness to seek out new challenges,” said Karen Olmstead, dean of SU’s Richard Henson School of Science and Technology, in a news release.
The daughter of two retired Air Force pilots, Kunciw was born in England, near the university, which is considered one of the oldest institutes for higher learning in the world.
“It has always been my dream to live and study in Cambridge,” she said.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)