Novartis awards scholarships to two Hall students

Two Seton Hall students have been awarded the 2010-2011 Novartis Scholarship, which is given by the Independent College Fund of New Jersey annually.

The award was given to senior Charles Defendorf and junior William Decotiis.

“I have combined joy and gratitude upon receiving a Novartis Science Scholarship,” Defendorf said. “I am honored to have my work recognized by Novartis and am grateful for their assistance and support of my studies and future research work.”

In order to be considered, students must be enrolled at an ICFNJ college or university in the science field, be entering their junior or senior year, maintain a 3.5 grade point average or better and have conducted or be planning to conduct independent scientific research, according to an informational email from ICFNJ

Both Defendorf and Decotiis are part of research teams here at Seton Hall.

Decotiis, a biology major, works with his mentor Dr. Anne Pumfery and is part of a research team that studies the link between herpes virus 8 and a type of skin cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Will,” Pumfery said. “He’s very smart and hard-working and always has a lot of questions, which keeps me on my toes.”

Defendorf is a second year recipient of the Novartis Scholarship and a biochemistry major.

Defendorf works with his mentor Dr. John Sowa and is involved in a research project that involves the detection of fatty alcohols in human blood and their relation to heart disease.

“I am very proud that Charles has been recognized for this award two years in a row,” Sowa said. “It indicates that Seton Hall has a strong interest in encouraging undergraduate students to research.”

Science as a major at Seton Hall proves to be demanding for Defendorf and Decotiis.

“In short (being a biochemistry major is) ‘challenging and fulfilling,'” Defendorf said.

Decotiis says the extra time and effort he puts in is worth the gain.

“Like any science major, being a biology major can be challenging,” Decotiis agreed. “Personally I have found being a biology major to be a very rewarding experience.”

However, according to both recipients, hard work does pay off.

“It is a humbling experience to receive an award like this,” Decotiis said. “It is truly an honor and a privilege to have been considered for the award and I am extraordinarily grateful to the selection committee for not only considering my application but selecting me as one of the awardees.”

The Novartis Scholarship can only be used to defer the cost of attendance.

However, it does make research more possible.

“Although the scholarship money is put towards my academic expenses, this helps in dealing with the cost of education and allows one like myself to engage in research where I otherwise might need to work in different places to cover the costs,” Defendorf said.

While Defendorf hopes to begin a career in medical research and medicine, Decotiis is considering a career elsewhere.

“I am actively considering law school and possibly an MBA, which may seem unconventional for a science major, but am optimistic as to the opportunities an unconventional track might afford,” Decotiis said.

Ashley Duvall can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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