Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

Gabriella Heller '10 Awarded Goldwater Scholarship

Gabriella Heller ’10 was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, which provides $7,500 towards the educational expenses of college sophomores and juniors doing who have a promising future in the natural sciences, math, or engineering. Shyam Saladi ’10 also received an honorable mention for the prestigious scholarship.

Gabriella is a double major in chemistry and mathematics at Pomona College in California. She has worked on a number of collaborative biochemistry projects with her professors, which include her research into the link between diabetes and infection. “The Goldwater award recognizes the independent research I have done for the last three years,” says Gabriella. “It's really comforting to know that others value my work.

Originally from Highland Park, Gabriella credits IMSA with preparing her in many ways for the impressive work she’s doing in Pomona. In her application for the Goldwater Scholarship, Gabriella wrote that “due to [the IMSA] experience, I am fascinated with science education reform and am driven to replicate my experience for others. My close family of peers, teachers and mentors at IMSA convinced me that my potential as a scientist was boundless.”

IMSA’s Student Inquiry and Research (SIR) program has had an especially formative effect on Gabriella’s academic interests and skills. “My SIR experience at IMSA showed me the importance of being involved in research, and as a result, I knew I had to make finding my way into a lab a priority. The encouragement of my SIR advisors and IMSA teachers helped me build the confidence I needed to pursue my own ideas and voice my opinion in lab discussions at Pomona.  Although my SIR project was in a different field (Psychology) than the one I wish to pursue (Biochemistry), the skills I gained, including data analysis, scientific writing ability, professionalism, etc. carry over into any scientific discipline. Furthermore, entering college knowing how to present and defend research both orally and in poster format has been invaluable.”

“I am so lucky to have gone to IMSA and to have benefitted from the SIR program. One day I hope to be the equivalent of an SIR advisor.”

Gabriella has spent the last semester studying math abroad in Budapest, Hungary, and is currently presenting her work at an international Bio-Sensing conference in Spain. She plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in biochemistry and then teaching and doing research at the college level.