Three Undergraduates Honored by Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program

Sophomore Maria McQuillan, majoring in physics with a math minor, has been awarded a 2015-16 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. Junior Anna Grim, majoring in mathematics and minoring in computer science, and junior Ryan Slechta, majoring in computer science and mathematics, were given honorable mentions.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.), who had served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. The program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. This year the program awarded 260 scholarships for the 2015-16 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States.

McQuillan plans to attend graduate school for astrophysics or geophysics with an ultimate goal of working with NASA. She said she was surprised and excited to receive the scholarship, and grateful for her faculty adviser, Dr. Elizabeth Wehner.

Grim plans to attend graduate school in mathematics with the intention of doing research in applied mathematics. This summer she will be part of a research program in computational dynamics at Brown University.

Slechta wants to pursue graduate study in computer science while specializing in the relationship between theoretical computer science and mathematical logic.

"While I'm proud to have been recognized by the Goldwater foundation, this is as much the achievement of my friends, family, professors and research advisers as it is my own," Slechta said. "It would not have been possible without their support, and I am extremely grateful for all the time and effort they have put in to help me achieve my goals. And they're all pretty awesome."

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,206 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred forty-five of the scholars are men, 115 are women and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. Thirty-four scholars are mathematics majors, 154 are science and related majors, 68 are majoring in engineering and four are computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines.

The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Since 1989, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has awarded 7,428 scholarships worth approximately $48 million.

For more information about the Goldwater Scholarships, contact Dr. Kyle Zimmer, associate professor of biology and St. Thomas’ Goldwater program chair, at (651) 962-5244.