Scholarships and Fellowships

Naomi Latorraca (Molecular Biology, History)
Goldwater Winner, 2012

University of Pittsburgh student Naomi Latorraca, a junior majoring in molecular biology and history with a minor in chemistry, has been named a 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner for her exceptional research in the natural sciences. She is enrolled in the University’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and was nominated for the scholarships through the auspices of Pitt’s University Honors College.

Latorraca, a Pitt Chancellor’s Scholar from Madison, Wis., is conducting research under the direction of Michael Grabe, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Computational and Systems Biology. Previous research training includes an internship at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany; participation in First Experiences in Research in Pitt’s School of Medicine; and work in Pitt’s Molecular Biology Workshop.

Among Latorraca’s honors are a 2011-12 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Academic Year Undergraduate Fellowship, a German Academic Exchange Service–Research Internships in Science and Engineering (DAAD-RISE) Fellowship, a Chancellor’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship, an HHMI Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and an Ella P. Stewart Award from Pitt’s biological sciences department, presented to a first-year student for exceptional performance in introductory courses.

Latorraca plans to pursue a PhD in biochemistry or biophysics that interfaces with the areas of computational and experimental biology. Ultimately, she would like to extend her research from the basic science of macromolecular structure and function to an investigation of how minute changes on the molecular level lead to clinically relevant pathologies. She hopes to work in a university setting and to engage precollege students in experimental science.