For Immediate Release — July 1, 2004


Mary E. McCrank

Media Relations Officer

(585) 245-5516



GENESEO, N.Y. — State University of New York at Geneseo student Daniel R. Welchons of Clinton, N.Y., has been named a recipient of the national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for his achievements and potential in the field of biology.

Welchons, a biochemistry major entering his junior year, was among 310 undergraduate sophomores and juniors selected from a pool of 1,113 nominees throughout the United States. The Goldwater scholarships recognize academic achievement in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering.

Welchons is the eleventh SUNY Geneseo student to be named a Goldwater Scholar since 1992. Welchons is one of four SUNY students to receive the scholarship this year. The other three SUNY recipients are enrolled at SUNY Stony Brook.

His scholarship, announced in March, is a two-year award totaling $15,000. It will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Welchons, 20, graduated from Clinton Central High School in 2002.

Following graduation from Geneseo, Welchons intends to earn his Ph.D. and M.D., and conduct research in the field of neurobiology with an emphasis in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Welchons, who is on the men’s indoor and outdoor track teams, had planned to attend another college that recruited him for track, but when he was accepted to Geneseo he decided to check out the college’s campus.

"I came to visit and it just seemed like an intuitively obvious choice," Welchons said.

Welchons said he is glad he made the decision to attend Geneseo, citing the college’s ability to provide a close working relationship between students and their professors. Welchons recently switched his major from biology to biochemistry, noting the additional advantages of being part of a smaller department.

"The professors at Geneseo have really helped me achieve some of the goals that I never thought would be possible, particularly Dr. (Assistant Chemistry Professor Kazushige) Yokoyama, who has been an excellent role model and mentor," Welchons said. "I think that Geneseo has really helped me in my pursuit of certain goals because of the faculty and staff that they have hired, the chemistry department in particular. They are an amazingly intelligent group of professionals."

Yokoyama said Welchons is "extremely motivated," a "top achiever," but takes time out to help others learn.

"Dan already exhibited a fantastic brightness in a directed study program when he was a freshman. He came up with most of the ideas regarding how the study would be directed," Yokoyama said. "Dan’s research abilities are comparable to a second-year graduate student, not a second-year undergraduate student.

"I would like to emphasize his sincere and genuine personality through interactions with classmates and faculty. He is a good influence on others around him, and he stimulates the work ethic in surrounding people."

Welchons worked with Yokoyama on a protein folding project which is based on a protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The main purpose of the research is to try and gain a better understanding of the protein folding dynamics and ultimately be able to quantitatively define the folding of the protein, he said.

"When I began my research on Alzheimer’s disease, it was purely professional, although now that I have been doing this research for almost two years it has evolved to be a personal interest of mine as well," Welchons said. "After the passing of President Reagan, I think that Alzheimer’s disease research will be getting a lot more attention and funding. Hopefully it will lead to a disease-modifying treatment that can attenuate the symptoms associated with the disease."

In addition to his studies and research, last year Welchons taught a chemistry lab, Quantitative Analysis, with chemistry professor John L. Deutsch.

Welchons is spending the summer working in Utica, N.Y., at the Masonic Medical Research Lab, which is world-renowned for its cardiac disease research. He received an American Heart Association Northeast Fellowship to work on a particular case of arrhythmogenesis, which is thought to play a role in the sudden death of certain genetically predisposed individuals.

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