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University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Biology Senior Named UALR’s Whitbeck Scholar

Ryne Ramaker of Bentonville has been named the 2012 winner of the Edward L. Whitbeck Memorial Award, UALR’s top academic prize.

The senior, who graduates this month with a B.S. degree in biology, will wear the silver robe and medallion at UALR’s May 19 commencement ceremony. His regalia signifies his selection for the Whitbeck award, the greatest distinction UALR bestows on a graduating student. The award is based on citizenship, scholarship, and leadership.

Later this year, he will enroll at the University of Alabama Birmingham on a National Institute of Health Medical Scientist Training Program Fellowship.

Ramaker arrived at UALR in the fall of 2008 and was selected for UALR’s Donaghey Scholars Program and the Science Scholars Program – the first student accepted to both programs. He will graduate with a 4.0 grade point average.

“He is one of the best, one of the very best,” said Dr. C. Earl Ramsey, professor of English and director of the Donaghey Scholars Program. “I rank him in the upper one to two percent of all the students – including doctoral students – I have encountered in a half century of teaching at Yale, Bryn Mawr, and here at UALR.”

In chemistry, Ramaker was named the top freshman chemistry student and the top organic chemistry student. The biology department named him the Thomas Hogue Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher and the Martha Couch Givens Outstanding Graduate Senior.

As a sophomore, he received an internship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to conduct biomedical research under the director of oncology and chair of the research, which led to Ramaker co-authoring a widely read research paper in the British Journal of Cancer.

As a junior, Ramaker worked with UALR’s Dr. Stephen Grace on his project aimed at developing a method for measuring and identifying potentially nutritious compounds in tomatoes.

He has presented his research at numerous conferences, including the Phytochemical Society of North America and the fifth annual BioNanoTox Conference. He was nominated for the national Goldwater Scholarship for undergraduate students with research potential, the first UALR student nominated since the early 1990s.

His volunteer activities include working with elementary school students, sharing his knowledge and passion for science with fourth and fifth graders at Bale Elementary School, and participating in the school’s science fair.

“I have put a large amount of work into my undergraduate studies, but it has been an honor to represent UALR, and I look forward to continuing to do so as I take advantage of the future opportunities it has provided me,” Ramaker said.