Alex Nixon may be studying the small world of nanotechnology, but he has big plans for his future. Now, the Department of Bioengineering has rewarded this rising senior with the first-ever Katona Scholarship for Bioengineering Excellence and made his big plans more attainable.
The Katona Scholarship for Excellence in Bioengineering is available to rising seniors with a declared major and open to bioengineering students pursuing any concentration within the degree program. The students selected for the scholarship must demonstrate strong academic performance, professional leadership within the university or outside, and exceptional promise for a successful bioengineering career that would benefit society.
If he could speak personally to somebody who contributed to the Katona Scholarship, Nixon says he would thank them for believing in him, and other Mason students. "The money from the scholarship will help me keep down student loan debt and will help me get off on a better foot–with less money held over my head!"
Nixon came to Mason for the research opportunities and has enjoyed working in the various campus laboratories. His current project is with the Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine designing a patch to assist in the detection and diagnosis of skin cancers using the center's nanotrap technology.
"As far as my interest in nanotechnology goes, that was more of a ‘that looks cool' thing when I was in high school. When I actually started learning about it and working with it under Dr. Salvador-Morales's direction I found that I really enjoyed working with it! It continues to fascinate me that the work that I am doing as an undergraduate could be used as a medical test in the future," he said.
After completing his undergraduate degree, Nixon plans on attending graduate school and Mason's new PhD in Bioengineering is his number one choice.
"I have met so many amazing and talented professors who genuinely care about my success and they haven't given me a reason to leave," said Nixon. "I will be studying with Dr. Salvador-Morales in the Laboratory of Nanotechnology (labofnano.gmu.edu). I'm fortunate to be able to work as a lab tech in her lab–it will give me a head start on my research."
"I was impressed by Alex," said Dr. Peter Katona who has long been interested in enhancing bioengineering at Mason and served as founder of the bioengineering program. "Alex is a good student with high GPA, but also an effective leader, very interested in cancer research. He wants to make the field more beneficial for society, and to help people. I couldn't be more pleased with the selection committee's decision," he added.
Photo: Alexander Nixon (on left) recipient of the first Bioengineering Department named scholarship in honor of Professor Peter Katona (on right). Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University.