U-M is proud to recognize four recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship! Congratulations to our newest Goldwater Scholars, Jacob Florian (Chemical Engineering), Sabrina Corsetti (Physics), Alex Wang (Mathematics), and Matthew Nelson (MCDB). This marks the fourth time in the history of this scholarship that U-M has had four scholars in a year (2002, 2002, 2018).
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the former Arizona Senator. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide support for highly qualified STEM students who plan to pursue a PhD and research career in these fields. At U-M, the nomination process for this award is supported by the U-M STEM Research Career Award.
Jacob Florian is a Junior in the College of Engineering majoring in Chemical Engineering. He was encouraged to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship by colleagues at his summer REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates). Jacob encourages future applicants to go through the process of applying for the Goldwater Scholarship as the experience is helpful for future scholarships, fellowships and grad school.
Jacob plans to attend graduate school for a PhD in Chemical Engineering.
Sabrina Corsetti is a Junior in LSA majoring in Honors Physics and Mathematical Sciences. Sabrina’s journey with particle physics began in Fall 2017. Her experience includes a stint with the MUSE Collaboration under Professor Lorenzon as well as a 2019 semester at CERN, funded by US ATLAS SUPER, working for the ATLAS Collaboration under Professor Junjie Zhu. Sabrina continues to work for ATLAS at U-M under Professor Tom Schwarz.
Applying for the Goldwater Scholarship helped Sabrina realize how much research has enriched her time at Michigan. The application process encouraged her to reflect over the opportunities she’s had, the skills she’s gained, and the people she has met through her research in just over two years. Says Sabrina, “I now feel more enthusiastic than ever about my research going forward and the experiences I will have in the future.” The Goldwater Scholarship will allow Sabrina to focus less on finances and more on research and academics as she enters her senior year at U-M. She hopes this will enable her to devote significant amounts of time and energy towards writing her physics thesis and preparing for graduate school.
Sabrina would like to thank Professor Wolfgang Lorenzon, Professor Junjie Zhu, and Professor Tom Schwarz for their support, as well as all of the professors, graduate students, postdocs, and research faculty that have offered their guidance and advice over the years. She plans to pursue a PhD in Applied Physics and transition into renewable energy research.
Matthew Nelson is a Junior in LSA majoring in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology. His Honors thesis “Disruption of local translation in axons in ALS-frontemporal dementia” is advised by Dr. Sami J. Barmada, MD, PhD.
On campus, Matthew is a Research Committee Co-chair for the Michigan Students Active Against ALS, an active member of the LSA Honors Program, and a member of the Sigma Xi and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.
For Matthew, winning the Goldwater Scholarship has further encouraged him to pursue his career goals in medical research. He says, “I love research, and I believe it is its own reward, but it is always gratifying to reap the fruits of my hard work. [This award] is a particularly welcome harvest while my next crop is frozen in a vat of liquid nitrogen, as all the labs at the University are shut down. (Please stay home so they reopen sooner; my cells miss me.)”
Matthew encourages future applicants to focus on their research while continuing to explore beyond science alone. “Science may have the exclusive power to answer questions about things that physically exist, but some of life’s most interesting inquiries are in thought and not reality,” he advises, “Continue to explore the non-empirical world: history, literature, ethics, and art contain far more things than are dreamt of in our philosophy."
Following his undergraduate career, Matthew aims to obtain an MD/PhD and conduct practically-oriented research on ALS and frontemporal dementia, using both science and clinical training to inform experiments.
Alex Wang is a Junior in LSA majoring in Honors Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science. Alex's Goldwater Scholarship keeps alive an amazing streak in the Math Department: they’ve had at least one Goldwater Scholar selected from their department for 14 years in a row!
Previously, Alex participated in an REU here at the University of Michigan in algebraic combinatorics, working on constructing balanced triangulations of sphere products as well as the Cornell Summer Program for Undergraduate Research where he worked on the inverse problem in equivariant cohomology. "These experiences," he says, "have led me to feel that I am both very interested in the area of algebra andgeometry/topology, but I also have so much to learn."
Through his volunteer experience with Wolverine Pathways, a program organized by the Michigan Mathematics Department to support middle school math classrooms in Ypsilanti, Alex has been able to explore his passion for teaching. "With the right opportunities, anyone can do math," he says, "I hope that students see that math is not something forever out of reach, but something that is truly accessible to them, if they believe in themselves and work hard towards that goal."
Following his undergraduate education, Alex intends to pursue a PhD in Mathematics with work as a research mathematician and Professor of Mathematics.