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Gatton Academy student receives National Merit Stalnaker Scholarship

Gatton Academy student receives National Merit Stalnaker Scholarship

David Sekora, a second-year student from Franklin at the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, has been named the recipient of the 2012 National Merit John M. Stalnaker Memorial Scholarship.

David Sekora, a Gatton Academy student from Franklin, has received the National Merit John M. Stalnaker Memorial Scholarship.

The award is a four-year scholarship underwritten by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as a tribute to its founding President and Chief Executive Officer.

“I’d like to thank the National Merit Corporation for awarding me the Stalnaker Memorial Scholarship,” Sekora said. “This is truly a high honor, and I am certain that it can do nothing but help to propel me forward along the path of achievement.”

Sekora, who is dually enrolled in the Gatton Academy and Franklin-Simpson High School, was among approximately 1,000 distinguished high school seniors who have won corporate-sponsored National Merit Scholarship awards financed by about 200 corporations, company foundations and other business organizations. Recipients were selected from a pool of some 15,000 Finalists nationwide.

About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2012 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2010 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

Dr. Tim Gott, director for the Gatton Academy and member of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation’s advisory council, described Sekora as both an emerging scholar and outstanding young adult.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this incredible honor with David,” Gott said. “Not only does this recognize him as one of the top academic students in the nation, it also reveals his depth and balance that allows him to be considered such an outstanding young man.  He has made a huge impact while he has attended the Gatton Academy and we look forward to seeing his accomplishments in the years to come.”

Sekora was selected from the 2012 pool of National Merit Finalists who are planning to pursue majors and careers in science or mathematics. Beginning this fall, Sekora will pursue degrees in mathematics and computer science at the University of Chicago. He would like to eventually become a mathematics professor and independent software developer.

During his time at the Gatton Academy, Sekora already has a jump start on his pursuits. Sekora researched geometric knot theory under guidance of Dr. Claus Ernst. The ultimate goal of the project was to learn about viral DNA, as in some cases viral DNA displays a knotted structure inside the capsid, which prevents the DNA from being threaded into a host organism for reproduction. To better understand their behavior, they developed software to generate random knots in confinement spheres, simplify knots through various transformational schemes, and identify knots given a suitably simplified polygonal representation.

“Overall, I would say that my time at the Academy has been a very positive experience in my life,” Sekora said. “The opportunities available to me–particularly research and scholarly opportunities alone– would have been enough to make the experience worthwhile. I am confident that the Gatton Academy has prepared me for life to a degree that few other programs can claim, and am thankful a million times over that I could be a part of something so wonderful.”

Additional National Merit Scholarship winners will be announced by the corporation in May.

Contact: Corey Alderdice, (270) 745-6565.

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 Last Modified 9/24/14