Four Williams students were nominated this year to receive the Goldwater Science Scholarships, and the Scholarships were won by all four applicants. Scott Snyder ’99, Matthew Sandoval ’99, Brian Gerke ’99 and Kristin France ’99 will receive $ 7,500 towards their tuition expenses for the next academic year.
The scholarships are provided by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, established with the purpose to alleviate a critical current and future shortage of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers. It intends to provide a continuing source of highly qualified individuals to those fields of academic study and research. Established in honor of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the scholarship program derives funds from interest on the Trust Fund, invested in U.S. Securities.
The awards are made annually on the basis of merit of college students who have outstanding academic potential and who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.
Every four-year academic institution is eligible to nominate up to four students who are in the sophomore or junior class during the 1997-98 academic year. To be considered, a student must be nominated by the college or university using official nomination materials provided by each institution.
Last year, two Williams studentsâ€”Carolyn McBride ’98 and Leo Tsai ’98, received the scholarships. This year, all four nominees were approved. Snyder said: “ I think the fact that we produced four winners indicates just how strong Williams is in the sciences in generalâ€”we had more winners than institutions like Caltech which basically only do science!” Snyder is a chemistry major and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in synthetic chemistry after graduation. He has two publications in scientific journals based on his five summers of scientific research. He also won one of the 20 grants from the Pfizer Pharmaceutical Corporation last year to fund his research this year with Professor of Chemistry J. Hodge Markgraf here at Williams. In his senior year in high school, he was already one of the 20 national finalists in the United States Chemistry Olympiad. Despite of all these considerable achievements, he was not certain that he would win. “ I was extremely happy to be nominated,” he said, “because competition here is pretty fierce.”
Sandoval found the application process relatively easyâ€”he was still involved in research that he began last summer at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, which helped him in writing his proposal. He is planning to take a year off after graduation and then go to UCSF to get a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. He said he thinks his future career will be science related, but he doesn’t have any definite plans yet. “It’s too early to make decisions like that,” Sandoval said. ”I think it’s a mistake to be overly focused toward a single goal. . . I don’t want to miss out on whatever life might offer.”
Physics and English major Gerke thought the application process was relatively standard and not particularly hard. “All the hard work came before applying,” Gerke said, “and it’s nice to be recognized for that.” He said he hopes to go to graduate school and get a Ph.D. in Physics. Eventually, he would like to become a professor, preferably at a small school.
The 300 grants awarded each year are geographically distributed â€” the number of scholarships per state depends on the number and qualifications of the nominees. When evaluating a candidate’s eligibility, the Foundation Board of Trustees takes into consideration their field of study, career objectives and the extent to which the individual has the commitment and potential to make a significant contribution to his or her field.
It is expected that students selected as scholars will pursue advanced degrees. To be considered, a student must have a college grade-point average of at least “B” and be in the upper fourth of his or her class. Only U. S. citizens and resident aliens can be nominated. Publicity is a responsibility of a faculty member who is supposed to serve as a liaison between the institution and the Foundation by selecting the best candidates and helping nominees prepare for the competition.
This year the Goldwater Scholars were selected from a field of 1,186 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. 183 of the Scholars are men, 133 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. 19 Scholars are mathematics majors, 215 are science majors, 20 are majoring in engineering, and 62 have double majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines.
The Foundation, now in its tenth year, has, to date, awarded 2,407 scholarships worth approximately $25 million. The Trustees plan to award about 300 scholarships for the 1999-2000 academic year.