Marina Maraskine’s time serving as a model student is helping her as she competes for the Goldwater Scholarship.
“She’s possibly one of the best undergraduate students I’ve ever had,” said Ajit Sharma, a professor of chemistry.
Maraskine, a Midland junior, was nominated for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, according to its website, supports highly qualified students in the math and sciences who wish to pursue careers in that field. Maraskine has worked in Sharma’s lab for almost three years.
The website for Dartmouth College explains each university may only nominate four students, and 300 scholarships are awarded each year. The scholarship gives a maximum of $7,500 annually for tuition, books and room and board. Juniors can receive a maximum of two years support, and seniors can get one year of support.
Maraskine said she should know by the end of March if she is a scholarship recipient.
Maraskine said she intends to apply for a combined MD/PhD program so she can be a doctor while continuing her research.
“I realize not many people get in (to the program) the first time,” she said. “So I will also apply to MD programs, because they’re a little easier.”
Sharma said Maraskine took his freshman chemistry class, and although it was the harder, two-semester version of the class, Maraskine still displayed exceptional organizational and intellectual talent.
“She served as a model for other students, and at the time we were looking for someone to help out in the lab,” Sharma said.
He said along with being naturally smart, Maraskine also demonstrates good practical sense in the lab — something he said other people might lack.
“She’s very independent now, to the point where us professors sometimes go to her if we have a question,” he said. “As an undergrad, I would say she’s done things a lot of graduate students haven’t done.”
Sharma’s lab work is in the field of nanotechnology, which is something many major research universities are researching and has many practical applications in medicine, he said.
She said if she decides to go into an MD program, she will do it for two years and then apply to a PhD program to combine the two.
However, assistant professor of biology Stephen Juris said he thinks Maraskine would be a good candidate for one of the combined programs.
“I think she’s really going to excel in whatever she decides to do, so I think she won’t have any problems,” he said. “MD/PhD programs are competitive because students in them tend to get medical school paid for. Top of the class students are the ones that get in there, and I think she’d be incredibly competitive for one of those programs.”
Maraskine’s husband was stationed in Afghanistan last year as a member of the U.S. armed forces. Maraskine said having her husband overseas wasn’t easy.
“It was really stressful, obviously, because he was in a dangerous situation, but it was something I had to keep separate,” she said. “I just had to focus on school and work. I got to talk to him maybe once a day at the most, sometimes.”
Sharma said Maraskine always stayed positive in the lab while her husband was away, which he said speaks to how well she handles stress.
“She never once came to the lab angry or sad. She was always very happy,” he said. “And it’s infectious. It makes the whole lab happy.”