I realize this is probably something I will have to decide for myself, but generally speaking is UVA at sticker a better value than WUSTL, GW or Minnesota with a moderate scholarship?
Even though this is putting the cart before the horse, I'll answer it since you will have to decide something like this when you choose to ED. First off, this is a good thread for varying opinions: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=178204
With moderate? Probably not (e.g. if we're talking 150k-ish debt at graduation after scholarship and interest are factored in). If you can get the debt down to the 100-120k-ish range then it becomes another question. I personally chose NU at sticker (260k debt at graduation) over GW/WUSTL both with 105k scholarships (which would have put me around 120-130k in debt at graduation).
1. The kind of work that your average person from GW/WUSTL/UMinn does is drastically different than the kind of work that the average person from a T14 does. The average person from NU/UVA goes to a biglaw firm and generally does work for corporations (either transactional or litigation). On the other hand, the average person from GW/WUSTL/UMinn goes to a small firm and does stuff like insurance defense, personal injury, etc. If you want to do the kind of work that big firms do your chances of ending up at a big firm is much higher from a T14 than it is from the other schools. Big firms also provide exit options into things like the USAO, in-house counsel, DoJ, etc that are practically foreclosed to people who end up at small firms.
2. T14's have better national reach if you want to work in either NYC, DC, or a region you are from. The other schools have much more limited reach. I chose NU because I would rather work in Chicago or NYC than DC. On top of that, a school like WUSTL struggles to place its grads in Chicago and since I have no ties to Indianapolis/Kansas City/St. Louis/other midwestern cities nor any desire to live there it is hard to justify going to WUSTL even for cheap. The one caveat I would mention is that if you take a T14 at sticker you should be willing to work in NYC. NYC is where the vast majority of big firm jobs are and is the easiest place to get one (and since you'll need a big firm job to pay off sticker price debt so you need to do everything in your power to make that is likely as possible which includes being willing to work in NYC).
3. The debt is killer though. First, around 20-25% of the class at T14s end up with a salary (e.g. 50k) that makes paying off sticker price debt nigh impossible. Obviously this is far higher at the lower ranked schools but things aren't perfect at the T14. Second, sticker price at a T14 takes around 5 years of biglaw to pay off even if you do get biglaw. In 2007 only around 20% of biglaw associates made it to year 5. While exit options pay well, they generally do not pay as well as biglaw and thus there is substantial risk that you will exit biglaw with a lot of debt still left with a salary that doesn't make it easy to shoulder the 150k or however much you have left. However since you have a hard science background I imagine that you can eliminate some of this risk since you will be more in demand if you are willing to do IP. I'm not sure how much that mitigates the risk of sticker though as I don't have that background and don't know much about it.
4. Basically I took a justifiable (albeit large) risk by attending a T14 at sticker because I wanted the geographic reach it provided and wanted to do the kind of work that a majority of people at my school end up doing. If I were you I would ask IP people on this board what they think and what they would do since they'll have a better understanding of the risks that someone in your position faces.