Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

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 and all 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.

Search the Goldwater directory for more scholars and honorable mentions.

2022 – 2023 UW Goldwater Scholars:

Read the UAA news article about these students.

Abby Burtner

Junior, Biochemistry Major

Abby is a junior majoring in Biochemistry with Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors and minoring in Data Science and Chemistry. She is broadly interested in immunology and protein design. She currently works in the King Lab at the Institute for Protein Design on a project designing de novo proteins to bind Toll-Like Receptors, key receptors that activate the innate immune system, for applications in vaccine development.

She has previously been involved in other research projects examining the skeletal diversity of squirrels and the origin of bat flight in the Santana Lab in the UW Biology Department and in examining zebrafish craniofacial phenotypes in the Maga Lab at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. Her research background in evolutionary and computational biology alongside her Honors Chemistry/Biochemistry coursework at UW has inspired her interest in synthesizing computational and experimental work through the world of protein design. In her free time, Abby enjoys reading science fiction, hiking in Washington’s beautiful mountains, and running around Seattle with Husky Running Club.

She would like to thank her mentors Chloe Adams and Dr. Neil King for furthering her undergraduate education and research experience, as well as her previous mentors Dr. Chris Law, Dr. Sharlene Santana, and Dr. Kelly Diamond for their much-appreciated guidance and support.

Abby’s near-term and long-term goals: After graduating, I aim to obtain a Ph.D. in Biochemistry to pursue research on medical issues at the biochemical scale. Longer term, I plan to continue research either in industry or academia with the goals of tackling the big biomedical problems that society will face in my lifetime while emphasizing science communication, inclusivity, and mentorship in my research program.

Abby’s tips for future applicants: Do not underestimate how long it takes to craft an application! Give yourself lots of time to let your motivations for applying and for pursuing research career percolate.

Jan Buzek

Junior, Computer Science and Mathematics Major

I’m a junior studying Computer Science and Mathematics, particularly interested in number theory, cryptography, and algorithms. I’ve been interested in math and computer science since an early age, and that interest has only grown. I’ve expanded my foundations in these fields through classes on analysis, probability, and complexity theory. As a freshman I began exploring contemporary math through a WDRP project on Chip Firing on Graphs, and later through a WXML project in probability.

My primary research project was in number theory, specifically finding twin smooth integers – very large consecutive integers with as small prime factors as possible. These have applications in Cryptography, but no efficient algorithms for finding them are known. In our recently finished project that began through the WXML and then continued for a year independently, our five person team found new, more efficient algorithms to find these pairs.

In my free time I enjoy playing chess, clarinet, piano, and hiking. This year I am studying abroad, for a semester each at the Universität Heidelberg and ETH Zürich. I’ve really enjoyed my time in Heidelberg so far, including getting to know the new area, taking rigorous classes, and speaking German.

Jan’s near-term and long-term goals: Currently I’m focused on making the most of my time abroad. I then plan on going to graduate school to study cryptography.

Nuria Alina Chandra

Junior, Computer Science major

I am a fourth-year student majoring computer science and minoring in global health. At the end of my freshman year, I began conducting research with Dr. Jennifer Rabbitts at Seattle Children’s Hospital. I analyzed clinical data to study acute pain after major musculoskeletal injury, and worked on a systematic review on the development of chronic pain after traumatic musculoskeletal injury. During my sophomore year I discovered my interest in computer science, and switched from the biochemistry major to the computer science major. I am currently part of the Mostafavi Computational Biology Lab, where I use deep learning to study regulatory genetics in immune cells. The long-term goal of this research is to be able to predict the effect of genetic mutations on immunological diseases. I have also done a geometric combinatorics research project with Dr. Rekha Thomas in on the graphical designs of paths. Outside of research, I enjoy writing for the Daily and being a copy-editor for Voyage UW. I am also a part of the Triathlon Club, and I like to spend my free time hiking and taking photographs. I am incredibly grateful for the support of her past and present mentors including Jennifer Rabbitts, Alexander Sasse, Rekha Thomas, and Sara Mostafavi.

Nuria’s near-term and long-term goals: I plan to pursue a PhD in computer science. I want to work at the intersection of machine learning ubiquitous computing, and algorithms research because a) these are the areas of computer science that I am most passionate about, and b) I believe that the combination of powerful tools from each of these subfields has the potential to have a high impact in medical applications. My driving long-term goal is impact. I want my research to help reduce the global burden of disease.

Nuria’s tips for future applicants: I would recommend getting feedback from the OMSFA advisors. I have gotten feedback from the advisors on many applications, and I always come away with a clearer idea of what I need to be sure to address in my application. After getting feedback on my Goldwater nomination application, I learned that application is much more about describing yourself and your goals than demonstrating research competence in a specific project. I found this to be very helpful for shaping my essays.

Meg Takezawa

Junior, Biochemistry major

Meg is currently a third-year student majoring in biochemistry. She has been investigating patient symptoms and cellular responses in diseases through her past research projects, including modeling allergic inflammation in vitro and detecting oral commensal bacteria with salivary diagnostics. These projects inspired her to analyze chemical factors that drive diseases and symptoms. She aims to pursue a research career to innovate microscale technologies that analyze patient symptoms and identify potential treatments. Meg aspires to make globally accessible novel technologies to further improve therapeutics. To achieve this career goal, she intends to pursue a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry. She was motivated to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship because this recognition will allow her to connect with other scholarship recipients and expand her network. She hopes to keep broadening her connections within chemistry to collaborate with many scientists and advance the field collectively.

Meg’s near-term and long-term goals: For the next few years, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. program in analytical chemistry. I ultimately want to have a career in research to develop microscale technologies for bioanalytics and diagnostics.

Meg’s tips for future applicants: I recommend future applicants to discuss with their research mentors, not just on the application, but also to brainstorm how this project will help them achieve their long-term goals (which might be graduate schools for some students). A part of this scholarship requires applicants to elaborate their future academic and career goals. Discussing with mentors will help you prepare for the application and start thinking about their plans after undergraduate years

Peter Yu

Junior, Civil Engineering Major

I am currently a junior majoring in civil engineering with a focus on transportation engineering. I am passionate about transportation engineering, with interests in highway design, traffic operations and simulation, traffic signal control, intelligent transportation systems, and transportation safety and security. Since my freshman year, I have been a member of the Smart Transportation Applications and Research Laboratory (STAR Lab) led by Dr. Yinhai Wang. In the lab, I develop and test novel highway geometric designs, traffic control schemes, and intelligent transportation systems to increase safety and mobility for all roadway users. I have developed and am analyzing the safety and operational performance of several new alternative interchange and freeway designs, one of which is the “one-sided diverging diamond interchange” (one-sided DDI). Through my research, I have gained invaluable research, technical, and professional skills. After my undergraduate studies, I plan to pursue master’s and Ph.D. degrees in civil (transportation) engineering.

I decided to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship because my career interests and goals are deeply rooted in research. Transportation engineering is the foundation of civilization and has a profound impact on our everyday lives. Nonetheless, areas worldwide face great challenges in transportation safety and mobility. These challenges continue to disproportionately affect disadvantaged populations. I believe that innovation in transportation engineering is one of the key steps to addressing these challenges.

I deeply appreciate all of my mentors both within and outside UW—especially Dr. Yinhai Wang, Dr. David Hurwitz, and Dr. Stephen Ressler—who have inspired me to pursue civil and transportation engineering. I am excited to contribute to society and the world in positive, meaningful ways through my interests and work in civil and transportation engineering.

Peter’s near-term and long-term goals: After my undergraduate studies, I plan to pursue master’s and Ph.D. degrees in civil (transportation) engineering. I also plan to continue making contributions to the transportation engineering field through research.

Peter’s tips for future applicants: Plan ahead in advance! The application process involves multiple steps and can be time-consuming. Also, be sure to get feedback from others as much as possible!

History of UW's Undergraduate Nominees, Honorable Mentions, and Scholars since 1999

2021 - 2022

2021 – 2022 UW Nominees:

Leah Davis

Junior, Marine Biology major

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the Puget Sound and felt a strong connection to the water. When Sea Star Wasting Disease first began, scientists on a local beach noticed me observing them and invited me to help with small tasks. This began my interest in studying marine creatures as a career. Later, when I went on my first Tribal Canoe Journey, I was taught about the medicine in water. It further motivated me to understand and protect the life the ocean holds.

In my field, my main research interests involve salmonids. I have worked on projects at UW studying Pacific herring, at WSU studying the evolution of salmonid genes, and have joined a team at the NWFSC studying Chinook salmon. I have also worked as a teaching assistant for a WWU Capstone Marine Conservation course.

At UW, I am the business subgroup lead for the Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles Team (UWROV). We design, build, and compete with our ROV in the Marine Advanced Technology Education competition. Being part of UWROV helped me understand the incredible role technology and engineering can play in conservation.

Because of how much the Suquamish community positively shaped my youth, I also decided to give back to Native youth while at UW by becoming a mentor for Makah tribal fifth graders in the Riverways Program. As a mentor, I shared my experience in marine science and helped the students shape their own career goals.

I decided to apply for the Goldwater scholarship because my career goals are deeply rooted in research. I also believe that having more researchers performing Indigenous centered projects will help give Indigenous tribes the representation they need and deserve in marine science. I applied because the Goldwater scholarship can help me continue working towards that goal by funding my education and connecting me with a large community of other research-oriented people in my field.

Leah’s near-term and long-term goals: In the near future, my goal is to finish and publish my current research projects as well as to pursue more field oriented research which COVID-19 has reduced my access to. After I earn my undergraduate degree, I plan to get my MS and PhD in Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. In the long term, my goal is to partner with sovereign tribes inside and outside of the United States to study how anthropogenic activity directly and indirectly impacts salmonid stocks and their ecological communities.

Leah’s tips for future applicants: My best suggestion is to be open to trying different options for your application materials. By trying different topics for your essays, for example, you might find a stronger response that you would not have otherwise chosen to begin with.

Alex Mallen, Goldwater Scholar

Sophomore, Computer Science major

Congratulations to Alex Mallen on his selection as a Goldwater Scholar! Read the news story about Alex and Sharlene Shirali.

I’m a sophomore majoring in computer science, and I have interests in math, neuroscience, philosophy, and AI. I have been interested in these for a while, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to explore them to at least some small degree throughout the last several years.

My undergraduate research has focused on machine learning methods for time-series forecasting inspired by dynamical systems theory. Under the supervision of Prof. Nathan Kutz at the AI Institute for Dynamic Systems, I developed and applied these methods to various scientific and engineering problems such as prediction of energy demand, atmospheric pollution forecasting, and earthquake prediction. In previous machine learning research, I worked on developing an unsupervised clustering algorithm that finds cliques in a network. I also have research interests in neuroscience. During an internship at the Allen Institute, I analyzed the connectivity patterns of cortical neurons based on a 3D reconstruction of a cubic millimeter of mouse visual cortex with the goal of contributing to scientific understanding of the algorithms of the brain. I also contributed machine-learned anatomical annotations to the publicly available research dataset. While my research has touched on machine learning, brain science, and math, my sights are shifting toward the robustly beneficial development of AI, which is an emerging and neglected issue.

Outside of research, I’m interested in Effective Altruism, which is a global network that tries to understand and act upon some of the world’s most pressing problems. I’m currently trying to grow a community of people at UW interested in figuring out how to best direct their positive efforts and find impactful careers.

I owe thanks to my mentors–Prof. Nathan Kutz, Dr. Henning Lange, and Dr. Nuno da Costa–for taking the time and risk of supervising me. I applied for the Goldwater Scholarship as a step toward my goal of pursuing a research career in AI.

Alex’s near-term and long-term goals: Near term, I plan to explore the state of the art in AI research. Long term, I hope to obtain a PhD in machine learning and contribute my career toward the robustly beneficial development of AI.

Alex’s tips for future applicants: This is one of many opportunities out there. Writing essays is time-consuming, and perfecting them is even more time-consuming, so look around before applying. Explore, build up skills, and think about important big-picture problems you may want to contribute to with your career. After that, think about what scholarships and programs might be appropriate, and apply away!

Sharlene Shirali, Goldwater Scholar

Junior, Neuroscience major

Congratulations to Sharlene Shirali on her selection as a Goldwater Scholar! Read the news story about Sharlene and Alex Mallen.

Sharlene is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Washington, pursuing a major in Neuroscience. Sharlene’s interest in Neuroscience was motivated by her experiences with individuals who suffer from neurological diseases. After graduating, Sharlene plans to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience and work to contribute towards the development of cures for chronic neurological diseases. Currently, Sharlene’s research project focuses on investigating the relationship between CFH/FHL-1 haploinsufficiency and regulators of complement activation, and their potential contribution to the pathology of early-onset macular drusen (EOMD), an inherited retinal degenerative disease.

Sharlene considers research to be a key component of her husky experience. Working in the lab has complemented and expanded upon her knowledge from coursework. Sharlene hopes to continue learning, developing, and refining her skills in the lab as she works on her research project. Sharlene’s time in the lab has introduced her to many different aspects of research, and allowed her to learn new concepts and application of techniques.

Outside of class, Sharlene enjoys writing short stories and poems, as well as exploring new hiking trails.

Sharlene’s near-term and long-term goals: My near-term goals include further developing my skills and knowledge in the lab. I plan to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience and continue to make contributions to science through research.

Sharlene’s tips for future applicants: Take some time to reflect on your research, motivations, and goals. Thinking through these will help you show your passion in the application!

Meg Takezawa

Sophomore, Biochemistry major

I am currently a second-year student majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Global Health. Since the beginning of my freshman year, I have been conducting research under Dr. Ashleigh Theberge where I utilize microfluidic systems to analyze cellular compounds and disease mechanisms to advance medicine. One of my projects focuses on simulating the microenvironment of asthma. I culture human lung fibroblasts in microfluidic devices to analyze the effects of the signaling molecules that trigger the differentiation of fibroblasts in asthmatic lung tissues. In addition to this, I have also contributed to innovating a novel at-home saliva collection device for capturing oral pathogenic bacteria.

Throughout these two projects, I have gained skills in not only biology but also engineering and programming. It has been very exciting to see close intersections across multiple disciplinary fields to facilitate more discoveries, collaborations, and questions.

As an individual who underwent medical treatments, I strongly believe that medicine is a powerful tool that supports individual lives and well-being. Combining this with my academic passion in biochemistry, I aim to pursue pathology to thoroughly study disease mechanisms and develop accessible, effective treatments for the underserved populations.

I truly appreciate all of my mentors within and outside UW – especially Dr. Ashleigh Theberge, Dr. Sanitta Thongpang, and Yuting Zeng – who have inspired me to pursue science as my professional career. I am determined to contribute to medical advancements to achieve global health equity.

Meg’s near-term and long-term goals: I plan to pursue a Departmental Honors in my major and further engage in research projects or internships to gain more skills. In the future, I intend to pursue a Ph.D. in pathology or other biomedical related fields to expand my knowledge in disease mechanisms and how they affect health around the world.

Meg’s tips for future applicants: It’s always best to discuss with your mentors first. They will help you articulate the important aspects of your research projects, skills, and other activities when you’re drafting your applications!

Zeynep Toprakbasti

Junior, Computer Science major

My name is Zeynep, I use she/her pronouns, and I am a 3rd year majoring in Computer Science and minoring Neural Computation and minoring in Digital Art & Experimental Media! I am most interested in artificial intelligence and how computing intersects with brain sciences. So, some of my favorite courses so far have been Deep Learning and Neural Engineering. In addition to my studies, I am a research assistant at the Brunton Lab for Brain, Behavior, & Data Sciences. At the lab I am building self-supervised learning models to effectively decode brain signals.

My other interests include art, philosophy, and social justice. These subjects always drove me to become more curious about myself and others, and they are what sparked my curiosity about the brain in the first place. As a result, I am deeply fascinated by intelligent systems and how decisions and representations of our reality are computed.

I was motivated to apply for the scholarship because I aspire to become a part of the collective computational brain sciences community! My goal for the future is to seek connections in interdisciplinary and collaborative spaces in this field and I believe I can best fulfill those goals by pursuing a PhD and continuing my research career. I dream of speaking to general audiences about our brains and all the wonders that exist inside.

I would like to thank my principal investigator Bing Brunton and my mentors Ellie Strandquist and Zoe Steine-Hanson for being my role models as women in computing and always supporting me throughout the various challenges of machine learning research.

Zeynep’s near-term and long-term goals: My short term goal is to successfully devise a model that is capable of decoding the brain through self-supervised learning, and I think this would contribute greatly to the fields of computational neuroscience and AI. In the long term, I want to pursue a PhD and speak to audiences to share with them why this research matters.

Zeynep’s tips for future applicants: I struggled a lot with tailoring my writing to a diverse audience, and finding the balance between concision and clarity. It’s important to get to the main idea quickly. I have to give credit to Dr. Fraser’s Honors Storytelling in the Sciences course–I learned about the importance of having a quickly introduced inciting incident (or struggle, or problem) in science communication. This concise introduction of the problem helped me immensely and helped me see that, though my topic was very technical, it is still deserving of an exciting story.

2020 - 2021

Jerry Cao

Junior, Computer Science major

Jerry Cao is a third-year undergraduate at the University of Washington where he studies Computer Science; he is also in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and is pursuing Departmental Honors. As a member of the Make4All Lab advised by Jennifer Mankoff and the UbiComp Lab advised by Shwetak Patel, Jerry conducts research at the intersection of health, computing, and fabrication.

His current research focuses on creating an unobtrusive, wearable device to monitor and predict the onset of adverse symptoms caused by health conditions where the body is unable to properly regulate blood circulation, such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and orthostatic hypotension. Some of Jerry’s past work includes contributing to generating optimized 3D-printable tactile maps for the visually impaired, building a biosensor for cannabidiol using a chemically induced dimerization system, and developing a system to continuously record blood pressure using non-invasive optical sensors. After graduation, he plans to obtain a PhD in computer science.

Outside of classes and research, Jerry helps run Project IF, an indoor farming organization that teaches students about hydroponics and other sustainable farming techniques through hands-on experience. He also enjoys teaching students about fabrication as an officer in WOOF3D, which is a 3D-printing club at UW.

Jerry’s near-term and long-term goals: Jerry’s short-term goal is to get a Ph.D. in computer science. His long-term goal is to increase access to health sensing by making low-cost tools that are accessible to a wider range of demographics.

Daniel Chen, Goldwater Scholar

Junior, Informatics and Microbiology major

Congratulations Daniel! Read the UAA news story announcing Daniel’s selection as a Goldwater Scholar.

Daniel Chen is double majoring in both Informatics and Microbiology (where he is pursuing departmental honors). He currently conducts research under Dr. Yapeng Su and Professor Jim Heath in the Heath lab at the Institute for Systems biology. His research is focused on utilizing the single-cell multi-omic paradigm to analyze COVID-19 peripheral blood mononuclear cells to identify the disease state effects of SARS-CoV-2 on patient immune systems. Such research has also branched out into investigating heterogenous patient responses to COVID-19 in convalescence along with interrogation of patient epigenomes to identify the early-stage immune cell subpopulations responsible for humoral immunity formation and the epigenomic changes that may guide such. In combination with Chen’s previous research investigating melanoma subpopulations using single-cell transcriptome (scRNA-seq) and epigenome (scATAC-seq) data, his current research projects have continued to push and develop his passion for biomedical informatics particularly when applied to clinically relevant problems.

Chen has previously been awarded the Levinson Emerging Scholars award and the Mary Gates Research Scholarship (for both Winter and Autumn 2020), and is also listed on the Annual Dean’s List. Outside of class and research he enjoys hiking in nature preserves and crocheting amigurumi animals. After his undergraduate studies, Chen intends to pursue an MD-PhD centered on leveraging computational resources and advances to solve human medical challenges such as cancer and infectious diseases. He particularly looks forward to identifying best practices and applications for such research to develop more accessible medical solutions for the given problem.

Daniel’s near-term and long-term goals: I plan on initially earning an MD-PhD in either Bioinformatics or Bioengineering. Then I hope to pursue a faculty position at a university to conduct translational research in biomedical-informatic oriented fields.

Daniel’s tips for future applicants: Reach out to the OMSFA staff members because they do an amazing job in providing advice and resources on the application. Definitely take advice with a grain of salt and speak to what personally drives you which may require some time to just sit-down and really dig deep into what is the unique, personal reason your pursuing your current goals, what are they and what do they lead to (i.e. what are your future goals; why is what you’re doing now helping your career).

Christopher Kang

Junior, Computer Science, Math and Economics major

I’m Chris, a Computer Science and Mathematics double degree researching quantum algorithms for molecular simulations. I relish discovering and upholding truth, which is why I find algorithm design fascinating: computers can produce answers which are verifiably correct, making the unknown known.

However, current computers face limitations in solving specific types of problems, like simulating complex molecules. In fact, simulating proteins with modern algorithms would take thousands of years, making the problem intractable. My research asks: could a new class of computers enable a new class of discoveries? With better quantum computers, we could solve certain intractable problems, like molecular simulation. While simulating large proteins is not yet realizable, my hope is that quantum simulation algorithms will someday enable faster drug discovery, leading to more effective therapeutics.

I plan to obtain a PhD in Computer Science, where I will research near-term quantum algorithms for simulation while continuing my efforts to broaden participation in computing. In the long-run, I hope to pioneer new classes of quantum algorithms for simulation and scientific discovery. I also aim to support efforts to make the US economy quantum-ready by educating federal agencies and lawmakers on the impacts of quantum.

Christopher’s near-term and long-term goals: I plan to obtain a PhD in Computer Science, then achieve a tenured faculty position in quantum computing. I also aim to support efforts to make the US economy quantum-ready by educating federal agencies and lawmakers on the impacts of quantum.

Christopher’s tips for future applicants: Set reasonable expectations – awards often have many factors out of your control. Focus on introspection and learning to prepare strong applications over “award or bust” mindsets.

Cristian Swift

Sophomore, Oceanography major

I am a 1st year at the University of Washington pursuing Oceanography as a major with a minor in data sciences. Getting my start in research at 15 through the Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA) in Everett Washington, I have been enveloped in marine research taking on different angles from heavy metals to protein analysis. Outside of classes I am a part of the Undergraduate Research Program’s URL team, where I share the importance of starting research earlier in your university career. I also participate in the School of Oceanography’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee working to make the School of Oceanography more representative of our population.

My current research in the Rocap biological oceanography laboratory is focused on an ecotype of the Marine bacteria, Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthesizer on the planet. We are investigating the hybrid cluster protein which has special interest because in other organisms it has shown to be responsible for denitrification resulting in the release of greenhouse gasses, not observed before in Prochlorococcus. Over summer and fall I worked to identify the type of hybrid cluster protein this organism holds which tells us how this protein may function in Prochlorococcus. Continuing, I plan on creating a phylogenetic tree and develop metatranscriptomes to identify whether the Hybrid Cluster Proteins in Prochlorococcus and additional organisms are active, meaning they denitrify.

During my time at UW I want to experience all aspects of research to develop essential skills and continue fighting for increased equitability to access research opportunities in our undergraduate population. In the next couple of years I plan on pursuing a Ph.D. in oceanography and data sciences to expose me further to the diverse field of marine research with a long term goal of working in ecology and aiding in conservation efforts.

Cristian’s near-term and long-term goals: My near term goals are to develop my data sciences skills to prepare me for my summer internship which will be computationally heavy, and learn to develop additional wet lab, and computational biology skills. In the long term I want to earn a Ph.D. in oceanography with a focus on data sciences to investigate the relationships with organisms and the ocean along with working in conservation.

Carter Vu

Junior, Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering major

Carter Vu is a junior studying Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at the University of Washington (UW) with Interdisciplinary and Departmental Honors, and plans to pursue a minor in Entrepreneurship. Carter entered the UW through the Early Entrance Program at the Robinson Center for Young Scholars, and has since become an Annual Dean’s List awardee, a NASA Space Grant Scholar, an Astronaut Scholar, and president of the student branch of the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium.

Currently, Carter is a member of the ATLAS collaboration at CERN, designing and running statistical analysis frameworks and Monte-Carlo simulations in the search for the generic heavy Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider, while simultaneously contributing to development of hypervelocity ram acceleration technologies at the UW through computational fluid dynamics modeling. His past research experience includes construction of a prototype reactor for environmentally friendly H2 production through methane pyrolysis, as well as independent study of topics in topology, knot theory, and manifold theory. Key long-term goals for Carter include continuing his study of space launch systems through pursuit of a PhD, joining and leading industry research teams developing the next generation of space launch and space flight, and founding a highly interdisciplinary, research-oriented company with a team of uniquely passionate engineers.

Outside of the hard sciences, Carter enjoys downhill skiing, running, cycling, and studying sustainability, international human rights, and foreign policy. He has contributed to the 2019 review of the Franklin & Marshall College Global Barometer of Gay Rights discussion on Libya, and continues to engage with human rights and sustainability at the international level.

Carter’s near-term and long-term goals: In the near term, Carter aims to graduate in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with Interdisciplinary Honors, Departmental Honors, and a minor in Entrepreneurship. He also plans to intern at a major space launch company. In the long term, after having gained experience in the space industry, he intends to found a company focused on developing the next generation of space launch technologies.

Carter’s tips for future applicants: Use your network! It can never hurt to have another set of eyes review your application materials, just to make sure that every word and every line makes the case for your success.

2019 - 2020

Congratulations Keyan Gootkin, Parker Ruth, and Karen Zhang! Read the UAA news story announcing their selections as Goldwater Scholars.

2019 – 2020 UW Nominees:

Megan Bui

Junior, Electrical Engineering major

My purpose is to build fuel-efficient technologies and integrate renewable energy into the world’s power grids. As a child, I dreamt of the future; as an electrical engineer, I will create it. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in machine learning because I believe the future of energy-efficient devices will be the Internet of Things and Smart Devices where technologies are interconnected and self-regulating.

Megan’s tips for future applicants:
Start early to allow for various feedback and multiple revisions.

Jakub Filipek

Junior, Computer Science major

I came to the United States during my junior year of high school and was amazed by a number of opportunities outside of school given to students. When I came to the University of Washington this feeling only amplified, and that is when I decided to look into the research as a way of enhancing my experience at the college.

Because I liked it so much I decided that I should pursue Ph.D., as it would both expose me to more ideas, and give me the necessary experience to be successful in research. I am still unsure what field specifically I want to specialize in, and that’s why I have been exploring many opportunities during the last few years. Goldwater Scholarship fits it perfectly in the encouragement of pursuing Ph.D., while not being limited to a single area of study.

Time after finishing Ph.D. is too distant for me to know what I would like to do, but as of now, I believe that research-oriented work in either academia or industry is a feasible goal that would make me happy, and allow me to apply my skills in a meaningful way.

On a more personal note, I would love to stay in the United States and pursue education, and then career. Since I am a Green Card holder, citizenship is definitely something I would want to get in incoming years. Goldwater encourages that, and it gives me a validation of a place here, which is something I was struggling with at the beginning of my time in the United States.

Keyan Gootkin, Goldwater Scholar

Junior, Astronomy and Physics majors

My name is Keyan Gootkin, I’m a 3rd year astronomy student studying the universe’s most massive stars in their final days. I have been in the UW Massive Stars Research Group since I came to UW, and am about to publish my first paper as part of the group. Outside of classes and research I am heavily involved in science/astronomy outreach as the student coordinator for the Theodor Jacobsen Observatory (the creepy old building by the W), the outreach coordinator for the League of Astronomers, and a volunteer for the campus and mobile Planetariums.

Keyan’s tips for future applicants:
The biggest barrier to getting a scholarship is believing in yourself enough to apply 🙂

Parker Ruth, Goldwater Scholar

Junior, Computer Engineering; Bioengineering majors

Parker Ruth

Parker Ruth is a senior obtaining a double degree in Computer Engineering and Bioengineering; he is part of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and is pursuing Departmental Honors. His research explores the design of computational tools to improve access to healthcare. As a member of the Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp) research lab advised by Professor Shwetak Patel, Parker has contributed to the development and testing of mobile health applications for sleep apnea screening, cardiovascular health, osteoporosis detection, and physical activity quantification. In addition to his research in smartphone health, he is currently designing tools for continuous, non-invasive blood pressure monitoring. Before joining the UbiComp lab, Parker contributed to global health research by building image processing software for HIV drug resistance tests. Outside the classroom Parker started a club to help students get involved with research in bioengineering-related fields. After obtaining his undergraduate degrees, Parker plans to obtain a PhD in computer science, with a long-term goal of pursuing a career as a researcher using computers to improve people’s lives. Parker is grateful for the outstanding mentorship he has received from his current and past advisors. Parker is especially thankful for his family’s continual encouragement and support.

Parker’s tips for future applicants:
Start your application early, give plenty of time for your research mentor(s) to provide feedback, and talk with the OMFSA staff — they are very helpful!

Karen Zhang, Goldwater Scholar

Junior, Biochemistry, Microbiology majors

Karen Zhang is a junior studying Biochemistry and Microbiology. She is part of the Interdisciplinary Honors program and is working to complete Departmental Honors in Biochemistry. After graduating from UW, she aims to obtain a PhD in either Synthetic Biology or Bioinformatics. She is deeply passionate about studying the machineries of life at a molecular level and engineering them to perform novel tasks. She was first introduced to this concept of “hacking” biological systems in high school when she participated in iGEM, an international synthetic biology competition. Since then, she has been fascinated by the numerous issues that synthetic biology could help solve in a wide range of fields, including medical, environmental, and industrial.

Currently, Karen is an undergraduate researcher in the Molecular Information Systems Lab (MISL) at UW. Her lab investigates technologies for storing digital data in DNA and is interested in all things at the intersection between computer science and biology. Her projects so far have focused on using nanopore sensing technology to read out information from engineered biological systems. Through this interdisciplinary lab, she has gained invaluable experience in professional research and delved deeper into synthetic biology. She has also developed an appreciation for bioinformatics and the essential role that computational algorithms play in interpreting biological data.

Outside of academics and research, Karen is an editor for the UW Microbiology Journal where she guides writers in developing informative and fascinating articles about topics in microbiology. In her free time, Karen enjoys reading (and maybe one day writing) fantasy novels.

Karen’s tips for future applicants:
Let your passion shine through, especially in the personal statement portion of the application. Think about what motivates you and what makes you excited about your research, and use that to explain the actions you took and the things you achieved. For the research essay, make sure you have others look over it, including people who know the project and people who don’t.

2018 - 2019

Jordan Brown, Nominee

Junior, Mathematics major

Jordan Brown

I am an early entrance student at the University of Washington pursuing a degree in mathematics. I hope to become a research mathematician. My current research is focused on recent developments in type theory and the foundations of mathematics. The expansion of the use of computers in formal mathematical proofs is of great interest to me, and I hope to ascertain the extent to which type theory can be used not only to create programs which can check the validity of proofs, but which can independently generate mathematical proofs.

I come from Seattle, Washington and I have been interested in mathematics since I was very young. For the past few years, I have volunteered with the eMode Learning Foundation, teaching mathematics in Mount Baker and Rainier Beach to elementary- and middle-school students. I enjoy sharing my love of mathematics with people from my community, many of whom receive a very poor mathematical education in school.

Although I spend most of my time doing mathematics, I also act and play the clarinet. I love libraries and have visited nearly every branch in the Seattle Public Library system. One of my favorite activities is reading mathematical papers in German, both because I enjoy the mathematics and because I enjoy reading German. While I am far from fluent in German, I am rather adept in reading mathematical writing in German. This is convenient, as much of the literature on the foundations of mathematics in the twentieth century was written in German. Many other academic subjects interest me, and I have spent significant amounts of time reading about ethics, epistemology, psychology, physics, history, and sociology. My favorite authors of fiction are Paul Auster and James Baldwin.

Chris Moore, Scholar

Junior, Physics; Astronomy majors

Chris Moore

Before enlisting out of Bellevue at eighteen years old, Chris Moore was driven to learning all he could about the world around him. Enlisting into the Navy SEALs seemed the best opportunity to learn a great deal in a short amount of time. He persevered through training, two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and as SEAL instructor in Kodiak, Alaska. In what little free time he had on deployments, he enjoyed reading “The Feynman Lectures on Physics” and never gave up his passion for learning. The last three of his nine years in the military were spent mentoring hundreds of SEAL candidates in mountaineering, climbing, and survival in Alaska which instilled a passion for education and fundamental understanding that drove him to finally pursue the new challenge of scientific research.

Chris is currently pursuing two majors at the University of Washington; a comprehensive track in physics and a data science track in astronomy. He began research in Professor Kai-Mei Fu’s Optical Spintronics and Sensing Lab at the end of his first quarter. Being the first to see phenomena and knowing that his research will progress multiple scientific fields is what continues to drive his current pursuit of research. His research into single atomic defects in diamond and spin hall like effects in antiferromagnets provides very unique and challenging problems. He is continuing to learn about all facets of physics and astronomy and hopes to become a multifaceted subject matter expert capable of finding optimal research paths and outreach opportunities in the physical sciences.

As the president of the Society of Physics Students at the University of Washington, Chris started semi-monthly graduate research presentations in order to show undergraduates the research opportunities available in the physics department. In his free time, Chris enjoys ski mountaineering with his five year old Siberian husky, Kodi.

Chris’ tips for future applicants:
Use the application process as an opportunity to reflect of why academia is important to what you want to accomplish. Get as early a start as you possibly can and ask for help from graduate students, post-doctorates, and PIs along the way so that whoever is writing letters of recommendation has plenty of time and context. In the end, when asked about motivations, they must all come from you alone and good motivations take time to refine.

Parker Ruth, Nominee

Junior, Computer Engineering; Bioengineering majors

Parker Ruth

Parker Ruth is a junior obtaining a double degree in Computer Engineering and Bioengineering; he is part of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and is pursuing Departmental Honors. His research explores the design of computational tools to improve access to healthcare. As a member of the Ubiquitous Computing (UbiComp) research lab advised by Professor Shwetak Patel, Parker has contributed to the development and testing of mobile health applications for sleep apnea screening and continuous blood pressure monitoring. His current work aims to use commodity smartphone hardware to perform screening for osteoporosis by detecting changes in the resonant properties of osteoporotic bone. Before joining the UbiComp lab, Parker contributed to global health research by building image processing software for HIV drug resistance tests. Outside the classroom Parker started a club to help students get involved with research in bioengineering-related fields. After obtaining his undergraduate degrees, Parker plans to obtain a PhD in computer science, with a long-term goal of pursuing a career as a researcher using computers to improve people’s lives. Parker is grateful for the outstanding mentorship he has received from his current and past advisors, and for the generosity of the Washington Research Foundation. Parker is especially thankful for his family’s continual encouragement and support.

Parker’s tips for future applicants:
Working closely with my recommenders helped me to ensure that they were aware of the scholarship’s focus. Starting early gave me plenty of time to request feedback on my essays from advisors and research mentors.

Irika Sinha, Scholar

Sophomore, Biochemistry major

I was born in Bellevue, Washington and graduated from Redmond High School in 2017. I’m a sophomore at the University of Washington and will graduate with a B.S. in Biochemistry. I plan to double major with Biology. I am also part of Interdisciplinary Honors at UW and hope to complete College Honors for Biochemistry. Currently, I work on perovskite solar cells in the Ginger Lab and am contributing to the efforts to alleviate the disastrous effects of climate change by focusing on clean energy.

In the past, I have completed research as part of InBios International, a research company focused on immunodiagnostic tests for infectious diseases, and the Kaeberlein Lab in UW Pathology Department. My past experiences in laboratory settings have taught me many lab skills and introduced me to new concepts and techniques.

My family has a history of dementia and Alzheimer’s. My grandmother can no longer survive independently and, as each second goes by, she is forgetting me. It is expected that my mother and I will follow the same path when we grow old. These facts sparked my interest in neuroscience and I have always wanted to be a researcher working on a cure. In the future, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and complete further research in neuroscience in academia or at a research institute.

Irika’s tips for future applicants:
Talk to your P.I. about your project and really understand the details of the methodology so you can write about it.

2017 - 2018

Nelson Liu, Scholar

Junior, Linguistics, Computer Science, and Statistics major

Nelson Liu

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, Honorable Mention

Junior, Computer Science and Bioengineering major

Andrew Luo

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, Scholar

Junior, Computer Engineering and Math major

Kimberly Ruth

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, Scholar

Junior, Earth & Space Science major

Tyler Valentine

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.

2016 - 2017

Julia Bauman, Honorable Mention

Junior, Neurobiology major

Camille Birch, Honorable Mention

Junior, Bioengineering major

Yotam Ofek, Nominee

Sophomore, Comprehensive Physics major

Tyler Valentine, Honorable Mention

Junior, Physics, Earth & Space Science, and Astronomy major

2015 - 2016

Camille Birch, Nominee

Sophomore, Bioengineering major

Amanda Qu, Nominee

Junior, Biochemistry major

Austin Stromme, Scholar

Junior, Math (Comprehensive) and Computer Science major

Connor Tsuchida, Nominee

Junior, Bioegineering major

2014 - 2015

Ian Andrews, Scholar

Junior, Bioegineering major, Chemistry minor

Alice Bosma-Moody, Scholar

Junior, Bioegineering and Neurobiology major

Gina Hanson, Scholar

Junior, Bioegineering major, Applied Mathematics minor

Lael Wentland, Nominee

Junior, Bioegineering major, Global Health minor

2013 - 2014

Evan Mann, Honorable Mention

Junior, Chemical Engineering and Philosophy major

Sean Murphy, Nominee

Junior, Chemical Engineering major, Applied Mathematics minor

Jeremy Tran, Scholar

Junior, Chemistry and Biochemistry major, Mathematics minor

William Walker, Honorable Mention

Junior, Bioengineering major

2012 - 2013

Hunter Bennett, Honorable Mention

Junior, Bioegineering major, Chemistry minor

Sarah Harvey, Honorable Mention

Physics major

Jose Pineda, Nominee

Neurobiology and Mathematics major

Nancy Thomas, Nominee

Junior, Physics and Astronomy major, Earth & Space Sciences and Mathematics minor

2011 - 2012

Michael Bocek, Scholar

Junior, Biochemistry major

Evan Boyle, Honorable Mention

Junior, Biochemistry and Microbiology major

Derek Nhan, Honorable Mention

Junior, Biochemistry and Neurobiology major

Raymond Zhang, Scholar

Senior, Computer Engineering and Biology (Cell, Molecular, Developmental) major

2010 - 2011

Mark Bun, Scholar

Senior, Mathematics and Computer Science major

Benjamin Dulken, Scholar

Junior, Bioengineering major

Jane Hung, Scholar

Junior, Physics and Mathematics major

Cameron Turtle, Scholar

Junior, Bioengineering and Mathematics major

2009 - 2010

Devon Chandler-Brown, Scholar

Junior, Biology and Biochemistry major, French major

Noah Horwitz, Scholar

Junior, Chemistry major

Sherry Lee, Scholar

Junior, Biology (Molecular, cellular, and developmental) major

Christopher Mount, Scholar

Junior, Bioengineering and Neurobiology major

2008 - 2009

Matthew Becker, Nominee

Chemistry and Neurobiology major

Pranoti Hiremath, Scholar

Bioengineering major

Andrew Ishizuka, Honorable Mention

Biochemistry and Chemistry major

Rita Sodt, Nominee

Computer Engineering major

2007 - 2008

Nate Bottman, Scholar

Math, Applied Math, and Russian major

Julia Moore, Scholar

Applied & Computational Math Sciences major

Samuel Sudar, Honorable Mention

Neurobiology, Philosophy, and English majors

Kathy Wei, Scholar

Bioengineering and Computer Science major

2006 - 2007

Sam Burden, Honorable Mention

Electrical Engineering major

Jennifer Driggers, Scholar

Physics major

Julia Schwarz, Scholar

Computer Science major

Pavan Vaswani, Scholar

Neurobiology, Computer Science, and Biochemistry major

2005 - 2006

Owen D. Biesel, Scholar

Mathematics and Physics major

Jeffrey W Eaton, Scholar

Mathematics and Sociology major

Sean M Hughes, Scholar

Biochemistry, Neurobiology, and Danish major

Mei Liu, Honorable Mention

Electrical Engineering major

2004 - 2005

Lesley A. Everett, Scholar

Biochemistry major

Jennifer M. Lee, Honorable Mention

Neurobiology major

Jason M. Parker, Scholar

Electrical Engineering major

Anna R. Schneider, Scholar

Biochemistry major

2003 - 2004

Noah Giansiracusa, Scholar

Mathematics major

Eliana Hechter, Scholar

Computer Science major

Jennifer Lee, Honorable Mention

Neurobiology major

Jonathan Su, Scholar

Computer Engineering major

2002 - 2003

Sarah Collier, Nominee

Botany major

Anna Fortin, Nominee

Cell and Molecular Biology major

Peter Norgaard, Scholar

Aeronautical & Astronautical Engineering major

Jared Silva, Scholar

Chemistry and Biochemistry major

2001 - 2002

Daniel Brown, Nominee

Aerospace Engineering major

Jeffrey Giansiracusa, Scholar

Physics and Mathematics major

Sheeny Lan, Nominee

Ceramic Engineering major

Hoang Nhan, Scholar

Neurology and Neurobiology major

2000 - 2001

Tim Chin, Scholar

Material Science & Engineering major

Devin Kipp, Scholar

Energetics/Aeronautics & Astronautics major

Hoang Nhan, Nominee

Neurology and Neurobiology major

Annika Peter, Scholar

Physics and Astronomy major

1999 - 2000

Adrian N. Fehr, Scholar

Physics and Mathematics major

Cynthia E. Fisher, Scholar

Bioengineering and Biochemistry major

Janice J. Kim,  Scholar

Bioengineering and Biochemistry major

Toby Wu, Honorable Mention

Electrical Engineering and Molecular & Cellular Biology major