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Junior receives Goldwater Scholarship

For Michael Miller, a love of science and research began in high school when he took part in a program that examined the effect of kindergarten on child development.

“From an early age in high school, I was on the track for research,” he said.

That research track has taken Miller to Binghamton University and Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where his on- and off-campus work recently helped him earn the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

The scholarship, established in 1986, honors students who intend to enter math, science and engineering fields. Miller is one of 278 recipients of the scholarship, which covers up to $7,500 for the 2009-10 school year. He is the second Binghamton University to receive the award in the past two years; Gregory Stoddard won in 2008.

“The Goldwater Scholarship shows that I’m on the right path and the research I am doing is good research,” said Miller, a 20-year-old junior from Plainview who majors in biochemistry and psychobiology.

At Binghamton, Miller is working with Anne Clark, associate professor of biological sciences, and graduate student Andrew Gallup on yawning and thermoregulation in parakeets. The researchers determined that the birds yawned more in heated environments in order to cool the brain. The study received national attention late last year, appearing on the Discovery Channel’s news website and other outlets, including msnbc.com.

“I was surprised and happy it received so much attention,” Miller said. “It was very accessible, which is what makes me interested in the research.”

At Brookhaven, Miller is examining gastric-electrical stimulation and its effect on central brain activity.  The study, which Miller worked on last summer, over winter break and will continue with this summer, looks at the stomach-brain relationship as the subject receives an obesity treatment.

Miller, who also is co-president of the Neuroscience Club and the Fencing Club, hopes to continue brain-science research and eventually teach neuroscience.

“A person’s university experience is based on what he or she makes of it,” he said. “I really enjoy what Binghamton University has offered me. It’s been beyond expectations, but I’m still excited about the next year. All around, Binghamton has prepared me for my career path.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08