When this year’s Goldwater Scholarship winners were announced last week, for the first time all four of Yale’s nominees joined the more than 300 national winners.
The winners, selected for their academic merit from a pool of more than 1,000 math, science and engineering students nominated by their respective universities, will receive $7,500 for each year they remain in college. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the late U.S. Senator by giving scholarships to college students who plan to pursue advanced degrees and careers in science, mathematics and engineering.
Yale’s 2004 Goldwater Scholars are Melody Chan ’05, Swati Deshmukh ’06, Courtney Stritar ’05 and Vanessa Wood ’05. Associate Director of International Education & Fellowship Programs Linda De Laurentis said Yale had an especially high number of qualified and experienced applicants for the University’s nominations this year.
“This is one of most prestigious national awards for students in these fields,” De Laurentis said. “I was struck by fact that the group was all women, and they really are a terrific group. We’re very proud of them.”
Chan, a computer science and mathematics major in Silliman College, said she wants to earn a Ph.D. in math and establish a career conducting research and teaching discrete mathematics. Chan has extensive research experience and traveled to Budapest last fall to take classes focusing on mathematics. She plans to continue research this coming summer.
“More than winning, the more exciting part was getting nominated,” Chan said. “It’s an honor to represent Yale.”
Deshmukh, a molecular biophysics and biochemistry major in Pierson College said she is considering an M.D. and Ph.D. in biochemistry. She said she wants to pursue a career researching the biochemical causes of diseases particularly problematic in South Asia such as diabetes, hypertension and thyroid disorders. Both of Deshmukh’s parents are biochemists and have Type II diabetes.
“For me, studying the biochemistry of these diseases would be valuable on a personal level,” Deshmukh said. “I came to Yale for the biochemistry major, after doing research at NASA and Yale during high school.”
Stritar, a chemistry major in Saybrook College, said she is considering an M.D. or Ph.D. in chemistry so she can conduct medical research on and help treat celiac sprue, an intestinal disease from which her brothers suffer.
“I was really surprised and happy to find out I won since the program is pretty competitive,” Stritar said. “My dad is a chemist and a doctor, and I’ve been interested in pursuing chemistry since high school.”
This year, Stritar also received a Beckman Scholars fellowship for scientific research.
Wood, an applied physics major in Timothy Dwight College, said she wants to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics. She said she has been interested in the field since her senior year in high school and would like to conduct research in laser optics because of the great range of lasing applications.
“Research has been a big part of my Yale experience,” Wood said. “I was excited to win the award, especially because I know Courtney [Stritar] and Melody [Chan] well and because it’s great that all four women won.”