After weeks of anticipation, University of Iowa undergraduates Hannah Gulick, Russell Martin, and Guowei Qi finally got some great news. They learned that they had been named 2019 Goldwater Scholars.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship—the premier undergraduate award of its kind—was established by Congress in 1986 in honor of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, to challenge and support outstanding young scholar researchers committed to conducting basic science research in the fields of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering. Since 1989, 57 undergraduates from the University of Iowa have been named Goldwater Scholars.
Hannah Gulick of Spirit Lake, Iowa, is member of the University of Iowa Honors Program, a licensed ham radio operator, a graduate of rocket school, and an editor of Fools Magazine. Gulick is currently studying astronomy, physics, and creative writing while conducting research on HaloSat, a NASA-funded CubeSat that is searching for missing matter in the Milky Way’s Galactic Halo with Dr. Philip Kaaret. Gulick has been a part of several other projects connected to her home department where she was able to learn from Drs. Robert Mutel, Cornelia Lang, and David Miles.
After graduation, Gulick plans to pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics and her goal of conducting research in observational astronomy and space instrumentation for NASA.
Another Goldwater Scholarship recipient is UI sophomore Guowei Qi of West Des Moines. Qi is pursuing degrees in biochemistry, mathematics, and computer science, and he conducts research with Dr. Michael Schnieders, a biomedical engineer who was a 1997 Goldwater Scholar from the University of Iowa. Qi will be continuing his work with Schnieders on protein-side optimization in his third year of undergraduate study.
Qi is a Presidential Scholar and a member of the University of Iowa Honors Program, UI Student Government, and the UI Environmental Coalition. He recently represented his fellow students on the 2018 College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Search Committee and is an Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) Ambassador.
The Goldwater Foundation also recognized College of Engineering student Russell Martin of West Branch, Iowa, who is a member of the University of Iowa Honors Program, the ICRU Ambassadors, and the UI Robotics Team. During his undergraduate career, in which he studies biomechanics and biomaterials, Martin has contributed to the work of Drs. Michael Schnieders, Robert Cornell, Alexander Bassuk, and most recently, Laura Frey Law on the investigation of the relationship between electromyography magnitude and joint angle during voluntary contractions.
Each of the university’s institutional nominees worked closely with UI Honors Program Director of Scholar Development Kelly Thornburg, the University of Iowa’s Undergraduate Fellowships Committee, and an invaluable community of faculty and research mentors during the development of their application materials. Gulick, Martin, and Qi were also supported by 2018 scholar Ojas Pradhan of West Des Moines, IA.
Thornburg offered some insight into the process, what makes a strong applicant and why she thinks this year’s nominees were so successful.
“The best candidates have a problem or question they cannot stop thinking about," said Thornburg. "The application is an invitation to consider what is behind that obsession and to ask themselves how they might be able to channel it now and in the future. Our nominees took the opportunity to represent their university and departments very seriously, so none of us were surprised to find out that they were recognized by the Goldwater program.”
Gulick, Martin, and Qi came to the process with more than the requisite grades and practical experience. The kinds of challenges they were taking on proved to the nominating committee that science would always be more than a job for them. Bob Kirby, Director of the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates has worked with all three scholars and was eager to celebrate their success as well as their potential as champions of accessible, ethical scientific discourse.
“Hannah, Russell, and Guowei are wonderful examples of the outstanding basic science and engineering research done by undergraduates at Iowa," Kirby said. "What makes me most proud of them as a group is the public outreach they have been engaged in. They are excellent advocates for research both on and off campus. It will be a pleasure to see where their careers take them.”
To view a full list of the 2019 Goldwater Scholars, visit the Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Program website. Each scholar will receive up to $7,500 in funding for tuition, fees, books, and room and board.
Undergraduates entering their second or third year of study who are interested in representing the University of Iowa in the 2020 Goldwater competition should contact Kelly Thornburg at firstname.lastname@example.org.