Three juniors awarded Goldwater scholarship for excellence in math, science or engineering

Recently, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation named three students of the College, Ben Augenbraun ’15, Jesse Freeman ’15 and Samantha Petti ’15 as 2014 Goldwater Scholars. Congress established the scholarship in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the Foundation is to continue developing highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.

The scholarship recipients from the College are three of 293 nationwide recipients of the scholarship, which is awarded to college sophomores and juniors who excel in mathematics, science or engineering. Scholars receive awards of up to $7500 to cover tuition, fees, books and room and board.

Augenbraun is a physics major from Wilton, Conn. He spent last summer in the lab of Professor Robert W. Boyd at the University of Rochester, conducting research on the quantum states of photons using a technique called direct measurement. Augenbraun is planning on pursuing a thesis next year with Professor Protik Majumder. “I would not have achieved this without the dedicated professors in the department,” Augenbraun said. “They have instilled in me a deep enthusiasm for physics.” Augenbraun explained that, after graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, specializing in quantum optics.

Freeman, a mathematics major, is from Bethesda, Md. Freeman is currently studying abroad at the Williams-Exeter Program at Oxford. In the summer of 2012, he interned at the National Archives and co-wrote a paper on text classification algorithms with Jason Baron. Freeman also plans to complete  a thesis next year  on analytic number theory with Professor Steven Miller. Later, Freeman hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics. “I’m honored and humbled to receive this award,” Freeman said.

Petti, from Buffalo Grove, Ill., is a mathematics major who plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics or operations research. Over the summer, Petti researched knot theory with Professor Colin Adams as part of the SMALL Undergraduate Research Project, a nine-week summer program at the College in which undergraduates investigate open research problems in mathematics. Like Augenbraun and Freeman, Petti also plans to pursue a thesis next year. “I feel honored and excited to receive the Goldwater scholarship,” Petti said. “I am very grateful for the research opportunities Williams has offered me.”

Katerina King, director of fellowships at the College, noted that it’s atypical for three Williams students to receive the Goldwater scholarship in one year. “But all our applicants were stellar students with significant research experience, and I must admit I knew this was going to be no ordinary year,” she said.