posted December 17, 2009

Senior Amy Speelman Wins National Science Travel Award

Hope College senior Amy Speelman of Darien, Ill., is one of only 44 students around the world presented a 2010 Student Travel Award by the Biophysical Society.

The awards are for the recipients to attend the biophysical Society's 54th Annual Meeting at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday-Wednesday, Feb. 20-24.  The recipients of the competitive award are selected based on scientific merit, with priority given to those who will present a paper at the conference.  Each awardee receives a travel grant and will be recognized at a reception on Saturday, Feb. 20.

The travel award recipients include students attending colleges and universities around the country as well as in Canada, Germany, India, Poland, Spain, Taiwan, Venezuela and the United Kingdom.  Two other institutions from Michigan have recipients: Calvin College and the University of Michigan.

Speelman will present research that she has conducted at Hope with Dr. Brent Krueger, associate professor of chemistry.  Her presentation is titled "Modeling Fluorescently Tagged DNA and RNA Oligonucleotides for Direct Comparison to Fluorescence-Detected Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) Experiments."  The Krueger group studies biological molecules using laser spectroscopy and computer modeling.  Combining the two techniques will provide a better understanding of structural dynamics than is possible with either technique individually.

Speelman, who is majoring in both chemistry and French at Hope and plans to pursue a doctorate in physical or biophysical chemistry, has been conducting research with Krueger since the spring 2009 semester.  She had previously worked in the research group of Dr. Jason Gillmore, assistant professor of chemistry, since the spring of her sophomore year.

An article that she and Gillmore co-authored concerning the group's work was published in the June 2008 issue of the "Journal of Physical Chemistry."  In addition, she and 2009 graduate Chris Jordan were among a select number of students nationwide selected to participate in a physical chemistry symposium workshop for undergraduate chemistry majors held in conjunction with the 2008 meeting of the American Chemical Society.

During the summer of 2008 she conducted research at the college through the support of a "Jean Dreyfus Boissevain Undergraduate Scholarship for Excellence in Chemistry," awarded to Hope by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.  During the 2008-09 academic year she held a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, one of only 321 awarded nationwide to undergraduate sophomores and juniors in mathematics, science and engineering.

Speelman spent the fall 2008 semester in Nantes, France.  She is the daughter of David and Linda Speelman of Darien, and a 2005 graduate of Timothy Christian High School.

The Biophysical Society, founded in 1956, is a professional, scientific society established to encourage development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics.  The Biophysical Society's Annual Meeting is the world's largest meeting of biophysicists - over 6,000 attendees are expected, and more than 4,000 scientific abstracts have already been submitted for presentation at the event.