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Davis, California

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

UC Davis students awarded Goldwater scholarships

On Mar. 31, three out of four UC Davis nominees were awarded the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships for excellence in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering.

Helen Craig, Scott Himmelberger and Alexander Sutherland were three of 18 California residents to be awarded the scholarship. Of the UCs, Davis had the most awarded, with UC Santa Barbara boasting two recipients and UC Berkeley and Santa Cruz trailing behind with one recipient each.

“The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year,” said Gerald Smith, president and a founding member of the institution.

“The scholarship is a steppingstone to very prestigious fellowship programs,” Smith said. “Of the approximately 6,000 Goldwater scholar recipients, 67 went on to earn Rhodes scholarships and close to 90 have earned Marshall scholarships,” Smith said.

“It is nice to be recognized for all of the effort I have been putting into my studies,” said Himmelberger, a sophomore chemical engineering major.

“Receiving this award has just confirmed in my mind that I am doing something meaningful that will be valuable and beneficial to society,” said Himmelberger, who plans to get a doctorate in chemical engineering.

The award is specifically geared toward people pursuing careers in research fields. Himmelberger is currently aiding Professor Adam Moule, assistant professor in the chemical engineering and materials science department, in researching the applications of organic solar cells.

Sutherland, a junior chemistry major, was awarded the scholarship for his research into the application of nanotechnology in green chemistry.

“It takes money off my mind,” Sutherland said, “which is a big factor. This allows me to concentrate more on my studies. It’s a nice encouragement to keep going in the science field. It’s kind of like dangling the carrot.”

Sutherland, Himmelberger and Craig were threeout of 321 Goldwater Scholars, selected from a final pool of 1,035, according to Goldwater’s website.

All three have current goals of attaining a doctorate in their respective fields. Sutherland and Himmelberger expressed a desire to become professors at the collegiate level in order to continue their research.

“My ultimate goal right now would be to become a professor, teach and do research” said Sutherland.

Craig, a physics and mathematics double major, has a career goal of a Ph.D. in physics followed by work as a research scientist in computation physics and condensed matter theory, according to a press release.

Carrie Devine, Davis Honors Challenge counselor and campus Prestigious National Scholarships and Fellowships coordinator, was responsible for coordinating the recruitment of the applicants and assisting via feedback in the formal application process.

“Every year, we have awesomely qualified applicants, and it’s a highly competitive national competition,” Devine said. “It’s disappointing that everyone can’t be acknowledged. All four nominees are outstanding,promising scientists.”

Smith echoed these sentiments, “If we had twice the amount of money, we’d select twice as many candidates.”

“The caliber of students being selected is so good that the panelists are having a hard time differentiating,” Smith said, regarding the increasing number of Goldwater scholarships awarded each year.

Goldwater scholars are not obligated to pay back any portion of the money if they do not pursue a career in their designated field.

227 of the scholars are science and related majors, 52 majoring in engineering, and nine in computer sciences.

“It was a really long application process,” Himmelberger said. “It was like applying to college all over again.”

Goldwater has a current goal of fundraising to increase the number of scholarships offered and the compiling of a database to provide statistics on the current occupations of the 6,000 former Goldwater Scholars.

CHARLES HINRIKSSON can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.

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