For the 17th consecutive year, students from Rutgers University—New Brunswick have been selected as Goldwater Scholars.
Every year, undergraduate students from each university in the U.S. are nominated for the scholarship, after which a few hundred are chosen as Goldwater Scholars for their research achievements.
Four of this year’s scholars are School of Arts and Sciences juniors: Sohaib Hassan, Eesh Gupta, Andrew Schwartz and Julia Shneidman.
The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships that honors high-achieving undergraduate students who demonstrate a strong commitment to a research career and show their strong intellectual curiosity within their field, Hassan said.
As a genetics major with a focus in bioinformatics, he is currently working toward a doctorate degree, which he said he hopes will help him create his own bioinformatics tool to continue his research on chronic muscular illness.
“This accomplishment has really told me that my hard work is worth it which has only motivated me more to conduct more research and do all that I can to eventually create medicine for people like me,” Hassan said.
He said that his research focuses mostly on comparing different receptors in the intestines and colon as well as some factors that contribute to slowing the growth of malignant colorectal tumors.
Gupta, who is majoring in physics, said that his focus on quantum computing research earned him the Goldwater distinction, especially in regard to applying quantum computers to chemistry and computer science.
Specifically, his research involves finding the energy of specific molecules which also required mitigating computational errors, he said.
He said he is grateful to his mentor for giving him the opportunity to be involved with research through the Aresty Summer Science program, which then led to his internship at a national laboratory.
Gupta said he hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in quantum computing and eventually teach at the university level. In addition, he said he aims to build quantum processors to better simulate quantum systems.
“Mostly, I feel lucky to be taking classes taught by amazing faculty who care deeply about the material as well as their students,” Gupta said.
Shneidman said that she is majoring in mathematics with a minor in computer science and hopes to get a Ph.D. in one of these fields. She said she is looking to conduct research in either theoretical computer science, combinatorics or graph theory and eventually teach at a university level.
She said that the application included a detailed questionnaire about her academic achievements and goals as well as a research essay and recommendation letters.
Her research has primarily been in the field of topology which is the study of properties of geometric objects that remain unchanged even after continuous manipulation, she said. She has also worked on machine learning algorithms.
Shneidman said that she is grateful to have taken interesting elective and graduate mathematics courses as well as participated in various research experiences at different universities, all of which furthered her academic career.
“It is a wonderful honor to receive the Goldwater Scholarship, it is exciting for my work in mathematics and is also a great recognition for my mentors here at Rutgers and at my (Research Experiences for Undergraduates),” she said. “This scholarship will not only fund my education and research but also opens up new opportunities for me and connects me to people who are passionate about research in STEM.”
Schwartz, a current physics major, said that they plan to pursue a Ph.D. in physics and continue research in a university or national laboratory.
“(The recognition) validated for me that the work I have been doing is actually good and enough, I often feel like I am not putting enough into my research but clearly I'm doing good work … which has been very rewarding to find out,” they said.
They said that their research has been in the field of particle physics, which is the study of fundamental particles like atoms, protons, neutrons and quarks. Specifically, they are working on examining the properties of neutrinos, a virtually undetectable particle that is created during nuclear reactions.
Schwartz said they hope that with more knowledge about neutrinos, scientists could eventually explain other properties of the universe. Their work specifically has involved writing code to run and analyze simulations of the neutrino detector to minimize distractions in the data.
“Getting the Goldwater is a good measure of my academic/research accomplishment, but I'm also equally (if not more) proud about the amazing & rewarding friendships I have cultivated here because it has been the biggest way I have seen myself grow compared to high school,” Schwartz said.