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Special Scholars

Scholariship Recipients Gilder Lehrman History Scholar

Anna Ziering ’11

Anna Ziering’s selection as one of 10 students in the country to receive this scholarship and admission to an intensive five-week history research program in New York this past summer isn’t so surprising, given her penchant for digging into documents and contemplating serious social issues. As a high school senior at Boston University

Academy, the native of Newton, Massachusetts, wrote her thesis on Queen Mary I of England. Ziering also spent last spring pursuing American studies at King’s College, London. And she was already planning her senior thesis on Robert Frank’s The Americans.

As a Gilder Lehrman History Scholar, Ziering’s summer was spent researching Secession and the events that led to the Civil War. She focused on Louisiana, conducting research at the New-York Historical Society and other archives, ultimately producing a three-page introduction for four primary documents that will be used in high school and college classrooms.

An American-studies major, with a concentration in gender and sexuality since 1945, she notes, “I realized that American studies was the study of the cultures that make up daily life in the United States. I’m interested in social movements and civil-rights struggles, and the ways that they manifest themselves in different social contexts.”

She also integrates her academic and extracurricular pursuits: A former intern at the American Civil Liberties Union, Ziering serves on the executive board of Everyone Allied Against Homophobia, and participates in the Student Government Association as an academic affairs representative. This fall she’s also a senior interviewer in the admissions office.

Although her post-graduate plans aren’t fixed, she would like to pursue higher education, probably in American studies, but notes, “I would also love to combine it with film, apply it to social activism, and somehow incorporate poetry.”

Two Barnard students were awarded Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships that provide funding to undergraduates studying science, mathematics, and engineering.

Kerin Higa ’11

Kerin Higa ’11 is fascinated by the human brain. Originally interested in medicine when she entered Barnard, her ongoing curiosity about how the brain works—and what happens when it doesn’t—translated into the pursuit of a neuroscience and behavior major at Barnard. “In middle and high school I used to tutor in my mom’s special-education classroom,” says Higa, who is from Altadena, California.

Summer internships at the City of Hope in California, where she studied different treatments for brain cancer, further convinced her that a scientific research career was where her heart lay. This summer she worked with schizophrenic mice in Professor Peter Balsam’s lab at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia’s College of Physicians & Surgeons, exploring the problem of memory deficits.

Beyond basically living in the “mouse house,” as Higa said, she devoted much of her time to examining the data generated by these experiments. She presented a poster about the internship, which was funded by the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women, at the College in August. She’ll continue to work in the lab this school year as well. Higa has already given scientific presentations and posters on brain tumors and brain cancer, with some publications in the works. She looks forward to pursuing a PhD, with graduate school applications on her fall agenda.

When she’s not in the lab, Higa tutors students in the Morningside Heights neighborhood and coordinates the Columbia Community Outreach day of service.

Erin Kara ’11

“I am open to a lot of different things,” says Erin Kara ’11, a physics major who studied and researched gravitational waves at California Institute of Technology

(CalTech) this summer at its Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) and already has collaborated on a scientific paper. “Barnard has been really wonderful, and given me so many opportunities.” She is quick to credit her advisor, Reshmi Mukherjee, for encouraging her scientific inquiries and mentoring her.

At CalTech, Kara worked in the data analysis group, researching tools that will enable scientists to eventually detect gravitational waves. As part of the experience, Kara, in the company of the other 24 LIGO students, went to Hanford, Washington, to visit one of the LIGO detectors where she gave a talk about her summer work.

Outer space intrigues Kara, who spent the previous summer as a NASA intern working with gamma-ray bursts transmitted from the Fermi Gamma-Ray space telescope. “The romantic side of me loves discovery and seeing something that no one else has seen before,” says Kara. “That’s part of what keeps me interested [in physics].” But there are outside interests. Kara is an art history minor and co-director of Uptown Vocal, an a cappella singing group. And she makes time to pursue other activities, such as traveling to Greece and taking advantage of her time in Southern California to explore art museums and camp in Sequoia National Park.

The Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, native definitely sees herself as an academic, pursuing research. Kara adds, “[Academics] are so interested in their work, such intensity appeals to me.”

-by Merri Rosenberg '78, photograph by Dorothy Hong