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Clarkson Student Wins $35,000 Science Initiative Scholarship Award Sponsored By United Negro College Fund & Merck

[A photograph for newspaper use is available at]

Halimatu Mohammed of Bronx, N.Y., an undergraduate chemistry major at Clarkson University, has received a Science Initiative Scholarship sponsored by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Merck & Co.

UNCF-Merck scholarships are presented annually to African American students pursuing careers in scientific research at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels. Fifteen undergraduate recipients are selected from a nationwide pool of applicants on the basis of their academic achievements and their potential in the field of biomedical research.hmohammed2

Mohammed will receive over $35,000 in scholarships, which include $25,000 toward tuition and education costs as well as a $10,000 departmental grant to help support her laboratory and research. She will also participate in two summer research internships at Merck Laboratories with combined stipends of at least $10,000.

“I am really excited to receive this scholarship award,” said Mohammed. “This will encourage me to work even harder and will enhance my educational experience. At Clarkson I have worked with scientists, mentors, professors and staff members who have encouraged me to pursue my career interests, especially in research. I am confident that my personal and professional experiences will help me to succeed in the UNCF-Merck Science Initiative program and achieve not only my career goals, but to assist the next generation of undergraduate research students to exceed my accomplishments.”

Mohammed, who transferred to Clarkson from Bronx Community College in 2003, is currently an American Chemical Society Scholar, the president of the N.Y. Alumni Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Society, is enrolled in the Honors Program and has actively been involved with many organizations and programs both on and off campus. She has worked on polymer assembly in the laboratory of Professor of Chemistry Devon Shipp for three semesters. She is now working on both her honors and Chemistry Department theses, "Synthesis and Characterization of Multifunctional Polymeric Nanospheres," under the supervision of Prof. Shipp.

“Hali is extremely bright, but where she really excels and pushes well beyond her peers is in the research she does,” explained Shipp. “Within a week of starting at Clarkson she asked if I could direct her in a research project. Two things struck me about her in these early days: she hardly required any supervision and virtually everything she did in the lab worked straight away.  Both of these aspects are quite unusual, but as I have since learned that this is very typical of the way Hali approaches her work, and indeed, life itself.  She seems to be driven from deep inside to discover new knowledge, to take on challenges, and to explore and experience life as much as possible.”

In the fall, Mohammed received the Acres of Diamonds Award from the Minority Training Research Forum for her research paper "Selective Deprotection of D-6, 3-Glucuronolactone Derivatives." She was one of 12 students chosen in a national competition to attend the conference and deliver a poster and oral presentation of her project. Mohammed's research focused on developing a mechanism to protect and deprotect some functional groups in the compound, D-6, 3-Glucuronolactone using the iodine in methanol reagent system.

The UNCF-Merck Science Initiative is jointly funded by The Merck Company Foundation and The Merck Research Laboratories and administered by UNCF. It is one of the many programs Merck has funded to develop scientific talent among students from all sectors of society and to foster scientific literacy among the public.

Established in 1957 by Merck & Co. Inc., The Merck Company Foundation is a private,  US-based charitable foundation. Funded entirely by the company, it is Merck’s chief source of funding support to qualified nonprofit charitable organizations. Since its inception, the foundation has given more than $350 million to improve health care, advance biomedical education, as well as support social services, art and cultural, environmental, civic and other charitable organizations.

Founded in 1944, The United Negro College Fund is the nation’s oldest and most successful minority higher education assistance organization. UNCF raises funds to support its 39 member institutions and has helped more than 300,000 students earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. Currently, UNCF administers more than 450 programs, including scholarship and fellowship programs, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs.
[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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