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The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, Texas 75083-0688

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News contact: Steve McGregor, UTD, (972) 883-2293, smcgreg@utdallas.edu

U. T. Dallas Chemistry Graduate Student
Wins Coveted Homeland Security Fellowship

Vasiliki (Vicky) Zorbas

RICHARDSON, Texas (Sept. 2, 2003) — Vasiliki (Vicky) Zorbas, a graduate of West Point and currently a graduate student in chemistry at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has won a prestigious fellowship award from the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Under the terms of the fellowship, Zorbas, 27, of New York City, will receive a monthly stipend of $2,300 and full tuition and fees for a period of up to three years. She will also be placed in an internship related to her field of study for eight to 10 weeks next summer.

In addition, the award could lead to employment opportunities with the federal agency following her graduation.

"Being selected for this highly competitive award is a high honor for Vicky and a tribute to her outstanding scholarship and research," said Dr. John Ferraris, interim dean of UTD's School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and head of the university's chemistry department. "It also speaks highly of our chemistry program and members of the faculty with whom she interacts."

Zorbas is conducting research at UTD under the direction of Professor Inga Holl Musselman. Musselman's research group is investigating contrast mechanisms and chemical specificity in images of molecular adsorbates, or molecules that bind to a surface of a solid object. The research involves the use of powerful microscopes which allow three-dimensional investigation of surfaces down to the atomic scale.

Zorbas' work includes surface imaging of single-wall carbon nanotubes, rolled-up sheets of graphite that are 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. Molecular scale sensors and other devices made from carbon nanotubes could prove to have important defense and security-related applications.

"Vicky's desire to serve her country and to live her life in such a way as to impact others originated in high school more than 10 years ago when she applied to the United States Military Academy," said Musselman. "I believe that her excellent background in chemistry, coupled with her experience as an Army officer, has given her a unique perspective and understanding of the need to develop new technology for Homeland Security."

"Vicky is an outstanding and motivated student and is very deserving of this award," Musselman added. "I am extremely fortunate to serve as her research advisor."

Zorbas enrolled in the doctoral program in chemistry at UTD in the fall of 2002 and was awarded an Excellence in Education fellowship based on her credentials. She earned a B.S. degree in chemistry in 1997 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she was recognized as a "distinguished cadet" and received Phi Kappa Phi honors.

Following graduation, Zorbas completed five years of military service as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps, attaining the rank of captain. She won several medals from the Army, including one for leadership and mentorship.

About UTD
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 13,000 students. The school's freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university's Web site at http://www.utdallas.edu.


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This page last updated
August 11, 2003