Reaching New Heights
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship is considered the nation’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, and this year, two UNH juniors are among those recognized for their outstanding work.
Madison Wood, a junior in the UNH Honors Program majoring in Earth sciences, has been named a 2018 Goldwater Scholar. Emma Clarke, a junior physics major in the Honors Program, received a Goldwater Honorable Mention.
“What is particularly remarkable about this year’s Goldwater Scholarship and honorable mention recipients is the purposeful way in which they have pursued their research interests,” says Jeanne Sokolowski, director of UNH’s Office of National Fellowships. “Madison and Emma have identified and pursued opportunities ambitiously — both on campus and away. Taking advantage of programs ranging from the UK Fulbright summer institutes to NSF-REUs (research experiences for undergraduates) to our own International Research Opportunities Program (IROP), these students have gone after their goals with temerity and passion. It is that focus and determination that Goldwater has recognized.”
“I knew when I began the application process that the Goldwater Scholarship is incredibly competitive, and it was gratifying to have all my time and hard work pay off,” Wood says. She credits several members of her UNH community who were instrumental in helping her achieve Goldwater Scholar status, including Sokolowski and professors Nan Yi of the chemical engineering department and Julie Bryce of the Earth sciences department.
Wood was the only college student in the state of New Hampshire to receive the Goldwater Scholarship this year. She says it’s “an achievement that sets me up very well for a successful graduate school experience and research career,” adding, “The scholarship is awarded based on your potential to be a great researcher and scientist, and it really confirms my career goals to be recognized for that. It is both a confidence boost and a high standard I strive to live up to in my future work.”
At UNH, Wood loves being a part of the Earth sciences community. “There is such amazing diversity in the expertise and interests of faculty and students, while we all share a common curiosity about Earth processes and a love for all branches of science,” Wood says. “There’s always an atmosphere of enthusiasm and collaboration in James Hall, which makes it a terrific environment for learning and being exposed to many areas of research.”
Following graduation next spring, she will pursue a doctorate in environmental geochemistry. “Ultimately, I would like to have a climate-oriented research career and my own geochemistry laboratory,” she says.
Clarke says, “I am very appreciative for the recognition of the work I have done so far and am honored to be recognized at this level. I think we have a great (physics) department, which has been very supportive.”
Clarke, who is also a Research Experience and Apprenticeship Program and IROP recipient, will model dark matter interactions while working at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore, India, this summer through her IROP grant. After graduation next spring, she plans to study theoretical and computational cosmology at the doctorate level.
“In this incredibly competitive pool, our students have risen to the top,” Sokolowski says. “The fact that UNH students are successful is a testament to the excellent STEM education here, willingness of faculty to get talented undergraduates involved in research early and the institutional support of the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research.”