Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was created to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering and to foster excellence in these fields. The awards are made on the basis of merit to two groups of students — those who will be college juniors and those who will be college seniors in the following academic year — who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

Learn more about the Goldwater Scholarship and UW’s nomination process.

UW 2017-18 Nominees:

Nelson Liu

Junior, Linguistics, Computer Science, Statistics majors

Nelson Liu is a third year undergraduate at the University of Washington, where he studies computer science, statistics, and linguistics. He works on research as a member of Noah’s ARK, and is fortunate to be advised by Noah Smith. Nelson’s research interests lie at the intersection of machine learning and natural language processing, especially with linguistically sophisticated models. Through his work with Professor Smith and various research internships, Nelson has been fortunate to explore problems in computational social science, question answering, and automatic machine translation. After completing his undergraduate degree, Nelson plans to pursue a Ph.D. in natural language processing and finally a career in research.

Nelson’s tips for future Goldwater Scholarship campus applicants:
Be persistent and have confidence in yourself — I nearly didn’t apply during my second year of eligibility after previously not being selected.

Andrew Luo

Junior, Computer Science, Bioengineering majors

Andrew Luo is currently a third year undergraduate at the University of Washington, where he studies computer science and bioengineering. He works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Ubiquitous Computing Laboratory where he is advised by Shwetak Patel. Andrew’s interests lay at the intersection of computing, engineering, and health; he is especially interested in novel health sensing — taking ubiquitous signals such as audio input from the smartphone in your pocket, and applying signal processing and machine learning strategies for novel health tasks such as cough sensing. Through his work with Professor Patel and others, Andrew has been fortunate to explore and influence the ever changing relationship between people and their machines. In the future, Andrew hopes his work will allow cheaper and more frequent health testing that can improve outcomes in all healthcare settings. After completing his degree, Andrew plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science and then a career in research.

Besides his research, Andrew is also an active member in the Undergraduate Research Community at the University of Washington, where he gets more people involved in research as an Undergraduate Research Leader. He is also an officer of Denatured, a student run magazine which publishes articles of about advances in biology and health. In his free time, Andrew enjoys playing grand strategy games and participating as a flautist in the University of Washington bands.

Andrew’s tips for future Goldwater Scholarship campus applicants:
The Goldwater is a scholarship you really have to aim for at least one, perhaps two years in advance. It requires you to conclude that research is the career you want to pursue and develop sufficient depth and interest. Remember in your process that professors and mentors can be your greatest advocate and they care primarily about genuine interest in your topic of study. Put in the time, develop relationships and your research and do your best 🙂

Kimberly Ruth

Junior, Computer Engineering, Math majors

Kimberly Ruth is a junior double majoring in Computer Engineering and Mathematics; she is also in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and is pursuing Departmental Honors. Her research interests lie within the broad area of computer security, aiming to make computer systems stronger by understanding their weaknesses. Since winter quarter of her freshman year, she has been an undergraduate researcher in the CSE Security and Privacy Lab, co-advised by Professors Franziska Roesner and Tadayoshi Kohno. Her current research focus is on the security and privacy implications of emerging augmented reality (AR) technologies. AR systems present novel challenges for security due to their tight integration with the physical world, and Kimberly enjoys developing system design principles by analyzing these new risks; her current work aims to explore and define access control for multi-user AR systems, considering the implications of one AR user’s virtual content affecting another. She has been excited to take on increasing levels of responsibility with her research work, progressing from building auxiliary system components to helping discuss strategic project planning to most recently becoming a primary driver of research directions and project progress. To supplement her research work and gain a broad perspective on security and privacy, she participates in graduate-level security seminars and coursework, and last spring informally audited a course in cryptography. Kimberly maintains a parallel interest in mathematics and has participated twice in the Putnam competition. Motivated by her very positive experience in research, Kimberly plans to pursue a research-based career in computer security, starting with a PhD after graduation. She hopes to leverage mindsets of both theory and practice to inform the design of future secure systems. Kimberly is grateful to her fantastic advisors for their guidance and encouragement.

Kimberly’s tips for future Goldwater Scholarship campus applicants:
Your application is a chance for you to highlight your understanding of a research thought process. Be crystal clear about the research question your work answers, your approach to answering it, and how any results you have so far can be interpreted in the context of the original question. Focus on the part of the work that you were responsible for, especially any ill-defined issues that you had the autonomy to explore and define, and show how your contributions reflect the skills and mindsets that full-time researchers use on a daily basis.

Tyler Valentine

Junior, Earth and Space Science major

I am 4th year student at UW pursuing a degree in Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) with the intention of staying a 5th year to earn a dual degree in ESS and History and Philosophy of Science. I have engaged in a variety of research during my time at UW: from CubeSatellite development to space mining. My research has placed me in an ideal position to pursue a PhD in a field related to Space Science and Engineering where I will focus on developing the technology necessary to utilize the resources of near-Earth space. After my PhD, I will pursue a career in academia to continue my research and teach. Additionally, I hope to write a number of “popular science” books for consumption by the general public.

Tyler’s tips for future Goldwater Scholarship campus applicants:
Make sure to spend extra time crafting the research essay, and get as many folks to review your essay as possible: experts and non-experts alike.

UW 2016-17 Nominees:

Julia Bauman

Junior, Neurobiology major

Julia Bauman

Julia is a third-year student majoring in neurobiology at UW. She plans to pursue an MD and a PhD in neuroscience with the goal of doing neurodegenerative disease research and seeing patients who are affected by such diseases. She would ideally like to spend a majority of her time in the lab and hopes to eventually teach at the university level.

Julia has a passion for science and medicine, and has been involved in scientific research for the entirety of her undergraduate career. Her long-term project investigates the genetics, neuropathology and risk factors associated with potential subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease. She has also researched cellular mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease and neuroblastoma during summer internships at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD and the University of Freiburg in Germany, respectively.

Aside from research, Julia is involved in many activities on campus. She is Vice President of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a pre-medical honors society, where she enjoys organizing professional development programs for members and helping other pre-meds navigate their journey to medical school. As an outreach chair for the UW Neurobiology Club, she coordinates with scientists who come to speak at the club’s events. She is also an Undergraduate Research Leader with the university, helping to bring awareness to students about research opportunities.

Despite a busy schedule, Julia is always willing to make time for running and coffee. She also enjoys hiking, traveling, playing piano and reading in her spare time.

Camille Birch

Junior, Bioengineering major

Camille Birch

Camille is currently in her fourth year studying bioengineering and computer science, and is in the Interdisciplinary Honors program. She left high school after 10th grade and matriculated at UW to pursue college-level science and mathematics. During her freshman year she became interested in neuroscience, and joined Dr. Fetz’s lab to work on a brain-computer interface project soon after. In her current research, Camille works to develop a unified, adaptable neurophysiology system based around the NeuroChip-3 in order to allow for neural engineering in the prefrontal cortex in dynamic research environments. She is also investigating the potential efficacy of the prefrontal cortex as a site for brain-computer interface control and studying cross-cortical connectivity as a function of behavioral state. After graduation, Camille plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. program, specifically in the field of neural engineering, and then work in translational neural engineering research for rehabilitation medicine.

Yotam Ofek

Sophomore, Comprehensive Physics major

Yotam Ofek

Yotam Ofek is a second year student at the University of Washington majoring in physics and mathematics. While math and physics constitute the core of his studies, he pursues a multifaceted education, drawing from a diversity of fields such biology, engineering, and computer science.
Yotam has been working at the university’s biophysics lab since 11th grade. Now he is an independent researcher currently working on developing new fluorescence microscopy methods capable of measuring protein concentrations at the single-molecule scale. Such a tool would grant researchers of both biology and medicine a new way to probe the inner workings of cells and specifically the transfer of bacterial DNA.

A scientist in both heart and mind, Yotam wants nothing more than to delve into the unknown and to learn all that there is to find. After finishing his undergraduate education at the University of Washington, he intends to go to graduate school to continue his studies in order to eventually make a full time career of his research.

Tyler Valentine

Junior, Physics, Earth & Space Science, Astronomy majors

Tyler Valentine

Tyler has been passionate about science and technology from a young age. Given the economic realities of Tyler’s childhood and adolescence, he was unable to truly pursue his interests. His inner engineer wanted to build anything and almost everything from Tesla Coils to Roman Ballistas. Meanwhile, his inner scientist wanted a telescope to explore the stars and a chemistry set to try to manipulate the elements. Tyler’s inner scientist and engineer have always battle each other for his attention, making it exceedingly difficult to decide on a single major when applying to universities as a senior. A part of him wanted to pursue a degree in mechanical or aerospace engineering the other half wanted to pursue a hard science like molecular biology or astronomy. Eventually Tyler decided to pursue what he perceived to be the most general degree that he could find which would allow him to postpone making the decision about what to do for the rest of his life. He opted to pursue three overlapping majors as it would allow Tyler’s flexibility in applying to both science-based and engineering-based PhD programs.

Tyler’s life also took an interesting turn when he finally decided what research to pursue. As someone profoundly interested in science and engineering from a young age deciding what field of research to pursue was more difficult than deciding a major. Eventually he made the gut decision to ask Professor Robert Winglee for a position in his lab. Eventually this lead him to perform independent research projects on asteroid rendezvous trajectories and spacecraft instrumentation. Additionally, his work with Prof. Winglee granted him access to the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium (WSGC). With the WSGC he has been able to travel around the Pacific Northwest to help promote science and space exploration.