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Case, Melville scholarships honor best and brightest juniors

Recognizing past achievements and future potential

Provost David Campbell with Case and Melville Scholarship recipients. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Martha Munoz spends a lot of quality time with strange animals. In 2005, as a researcher in the University’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, she worked in the lab of Ayako Yamaguchi, a College of Arts and Sciences assistant professor of biology, studying the ways that hormones affect the development of the South African clawed frog.

“Seeing my first set of data flutter across my computer screen, I felt a surge of excitement,” says Munoz (CAS’07). “I can only define it as the thrill of discovery.”

The frog research wasn’t Munoz’s only experience with exotic species. Last summer, she joined Paul Barber, a CAS assistant professor in the BU Marine Program, studying the dispersal of sea star larvae in coral reefs off the shore of Indonesia. And these days, she is working with Chris Schneider, a CAS associate professor of biology, learning about speciation in Caribbean Anolis lizards.

Munoz was among 14 students recently given one of BU’s two highest awards recognizing undergraduate achievement — the Harold C. Case Scholarship. The other award is the Dean Elsbeth Melville Scholarship. The recipients of both awards were honored at a ceremony on May 2 at the Executive Leadership Center in the School of Management.

The Case Scholarships were instituted in 1967 to honor the achievements of BU’s fifth president, Harold C. Case (STH’27, Hon.’67). Case is credited with unifying BU and creating a cohesive academic and social community. Each year the scholarships are awarded to at least 10 juniors who exhibit great scholarly accomplishment and potential and who participate in extracurricular activities that contribute to University life. Munoz nicely fits both criteria: she is the founder of the Core Science Forum, an interdisciplinary discussion group that considers the ethics and policies of emerging trends in the sciences, and she tutors in biology, organic chemistry, and philosophy in the Educational Resource Center. She is also an active member of the Harriet E. Richards Cooperative House, an all-female cooperative dorm. As the house steward, she reorganized food purchasing procedures and eliminated a debt of nearly $3,000.

The other Case scholars are Timothy Bersak (SAR’07, CAS’07), Daniel Bruggemeyer (UNI’07), Laura Byerly (CAS’07), Kwan Chatvanichkul (CAS’07), Valentina Dutta (CAS’07), Joseph Mudd (CAS’07), Alok Pattani (CAS’07), Matthew Piscitelli (CAS’07), Joshua Shiode (CAS’07), Edy Tan (ENG’07), and Nasen Zhang (CAS’07).

The Melville Scholarships were established in 1978 in honor of the late Elsbeth Melville (CAS’25), longtime dean of women at BU. Each year the award is presented to two junior women who exemplify qualities stressed by Melville: excellence of scholarship, high moral character and personal integrity, contribution to the life of the University, and potential usefulness in their chosen field. This year’s Melville Scholars are Crystal Bates (SMG’07) and Andrea Buurma (CAS’07).

Bates, who is majoring in business administration and is a member of the executive board of SMG’s Leaders for Corporate Social Responsibility, is strongly committed to fostering integrity, diversity, gender equity, and sustainable business practices. When she begins her professional career, she says, she plans to be “an advocate for change in the accounting profession, creating the best working practices for employees as well as instituting programs that encourage active involvement in the community.”

Buurma, a biology major, began doing research last summer in the plant genetics lab of John Celenza, a CAS associate professor of biology, where she is pursuing an independent project to analyze the production of plant defense compounds.

She has worked as an alternative spring break volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and plans and teaches science to kindergarten students in local schools as a member of the Wizard’s Project. Buurma also volunteers at Children’s Hospital, where she reads to — and plays with — children, easing their fears as they await surgery.

 “The Case and Melville Awards honor the achievements of some of Boston University’s finest students and also speak of the promise we see of their remaining years here and for their careers in the wider world,” said Provost David Campbell. “We believe that they have achievements ahead of them yet and hope that they will continue to make good use of their remarkable talents.”