April 8, 2020
Purdue students earn prestigious Goldwater Scholarships
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Four Purdue University students have earned Goldwater Scholarships, the nation’s preeminent scholarship for undergraduates in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering. Institutions can nominate up to four students, and all four of Purdue’s nominees received the scholarship. Mackinzie Farnell, Robert Gustafson, Alexandra Stiffler and Lindsey Wilson are the recipients, representing the College of Engineering, the Honors College, and the College of Science. <
Congress established the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in 1986. The highly competitive award offers up to $7,500 toward tuition, fees and board to sophomores and juniors seeking research careers. All of these students are juniors.
“Historically, only a handful of institutions across the United States have four Goldwaters in a given year. That all four of our nominees received the scholarship speaks to the caliber of our students and Purdue as a research institution that prioritizes undergraduate education,” said Jay Akridge, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity. “Purdue students persistently pursue opportunities outside the classroom at every stage of their academic careers. We could not be prouder of these four students who model that spirit in their research as undergraduates.”
A student in the College of Engineering and the Honors College pursuing a major in materials engineering, originally from Munster, Indiana, Farnell excels in research. Her current emphasis is on metallurgy applications with her goal to make human activities more environmentally friendly. As part of the lab of Alejandro Strachan, professor of materials engineering, Farnell combines machine learning with atomistic simulations to more efficiently make new materials.
In considering her interest in materials engineering, she said, “I look at metals and wonder why they act the way they do: Why are steel bars strong while aluminum cans can be crushed underfoot? Why do tungsten wires make light bulbs glow?”
Gustafson, hailing from Jeffersonville, Indiana, is a student in the College of Science and the Honors College with majors in physics and astronomy, and mathematics. He stood out as a leader among his peers in physics since early in his studies in associate professor of physics and astronomy Raphael Lang’s dark matters research group. His independent spirit further shined through in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory when he was able to propose a new method of using neutrinos to determine the interiors of solar system bodies.
“My research experiences have been extremely rewarding,” he said. “I have greatly appreciated the opportunities to utilize creative independence within a larger collaboration and arrive at tangible conclusions that push the scientific community forward.”
Stiffler is a student in the College of Science native to Indianapolis pursuing a major in ecology, evolution, and environmental sciences. She shines as a scientific researcher and a community leader. Stiffler has conducted research on Fic proteins in the lab of Seema Mattoo, an assistant professor of biology, for more than three years. She is described by her professors and mentors as excelling in collaboration and displaying a high degree of intercultural competency.
“Many biologists ask why organisms display a particular type of behavior,” she said. “However, I seek to discover the ‘how’ and am building a background in biochemistry and microbiology to do so.”
Hailing from Boonville, Indiana, Wilson is a student in the College of Science pursuing a major in genetics. For over two years, she has conducted research on phage folding in the lab of Nicholas Noinaj, an associate professor of biology. Her research and leadership in the area of genetic mutation and disorders continues to impress her professors and colleagues.
“Little is known about the impact of many mutations involved in genetic disorders,” she said. “I aspire to fill the gaps in our knowledge by drawing connections between the mutations and the symptoms of the genetic diseases.”
Students who pursue Goldwater Scholarships participate in a competitive, campus-wide process through Purdue’s National and International Scholarships Office (NISO) to select Purdue’s nominees for this national honor. NISO is housed in Honors College and works with Purdue’s aspiring Goldwater applicants in the fall of each year.
About Purdue University
Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.
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Note to journalists: Photographs of the scholarship recipients are available to journalists via Google Drive.