Four University students receive Goldwater Scholarship


Quentin Shaw

Goldwater scholarship recipient Michael Toriyama poses with his research in Loomis Laboratory of Physics. In his research, Toriyama conducts simulations of ion radiation in semiconductors.

By Zihan Wang, Staff Writer

Four University students received the Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, a program Congress established in 1968. It is named in honor of the former Arizona senator, and it recognizes students pursuing careers in science, mathematics and engineering.

“The Goldwater scholarship is awarded to high-achieving students in STEM fields. This includes having a very high GPA, strong letters of recommendation, etc., but the biggest factor is demonstrating a high capacity to conduct research and a keen interest in continuing this research in graduate school,” said Alayna Johnson, a sophomore in LAS. 

Johnson was awarded the scholarship for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years, along with Michael Toriyama, junior in LAS and Engineering, and Rebecca Wipfler, junior in LAS, who were awarded the scholarships for 2018-19. Wesley Tung, junior in LAS, received an honorable mention.

“The morning (of the announcement) was very slow for me. I was really excited when I found they finally announced it,” Wipfler said.

The scholarship recipients from the University hope to continue their research and pursue graduate work in their fields.

“I want to go to graduate school and obtain a Ph.D,” Wipfler said.

Wipfler is researching microorganisms that live in hot springs in Yellowstone National Park and other places.

The award will also help relieve the recipients’ tuition burdens.

“The scholarship will help offset some of the cost of tuition,” Johnson said in an email.

Johnson is researching an environmentally friendly method to produce epoxides used to manufacture pharmaceuticals and plastics.

Tung said time management is necessary for success because of the heavy workload research demands. He also credited his experience as a saxophone and piano player as helping with his research.

“Fine arts and music, I think, helps me think in a different way, change tracks and bring you perspectives to think a little differently,” Tung said.

Johnson said passion and dedication in her research, as well as academic study, was necessary to win the award.

“I think I received the scholarship because I was fortunate enough to be part of several wonderful research opportunities. I would not have received this scholarship without the support of my mentors,” Wipfler said.

Toriyama said students should have a direction for their research in mind before they get involved in research, and they shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to professors.

“If a student is interested in joining a lab, I would recommend first to find out what they are interested in,” Wipfler said. “Because ultimately, you want to go into research; you’re going to enjoy it and you can put a lot of passion in it.”

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