Three U.Va. Students Named Goldwater Scholars

April 5, 2007-- Three University of Virginia students are among the 317 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recipients for 2007. The national scholarship, valued at $7,500 a year for up to two years, is open to rising third- and fourth-year students pursuing degrees in science, mathematics and engineering. Jennifer A. Cano, 20, of Mansfield, Conn., a physics/mathematics major; Sean A. Cantrell, 19, of Williamsburg, Va., a physics/mathematics major; and Gary B. Shambat, 20, of Fairfax, Va., an electrical engineering/chemical physics major, have been named Goldwater Scholars.

“This is clearly a testament to the quality of our undergraduates and their ability to compete with students from across the United States,” said Michael P. Timko, professor of biology and U.Va.’s faculty representative for the Goldwater Scholarship. “The recipients all have outstanding academic records and have been involved in independent research at the University and elsewhere.”
The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,110 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

“Each year four U.Va. students are nominated for the national competition from a group of 20 to 25 well-qualified undergraduates,” Timko said. “This year we had an exceptional group of students and received a total of three scholarships.”

About 50 percent of undergraduates at the University are involved in some form of research, many of them in the basic sciences.

“This is a really good year for us,” said Dinko Pocanic, chairman of the physics department. “This is a wonderful program that motivates the best young students in sciences.”

The Goldwater Scholarships give recipients distinction, he noted.

“Math is something about which I have always been passionate, and physics is the ultimate embodiment of that,” said Cano, a second-year student who plans to get a Ph.D. in physics/mathematics and conduct research in pure mathematics, mathematical physics, high energy or particle physics. “These things excite me and I will pursue them the rest of my life.”
“Having three recipients from U.Va. receive this premier undergraduate science, math and engineering scholarship affirms U.Va.'s position as a formidable institution in these fields,” said Cantrell, a second-year student who plans to earn a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and conduct research to probe the most fundamental aspects of nature.

“I am grateful to have won the Goldwater Scholarship, not only as a student, but as a scientific researcher,” said Shambat, a third-year student who wants to get a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and do research on emerging renewable energy technologies and applied energy systems nanoscience. “This prestigious award opens doors to the arena of higher learning and will allow me to take my studies to the next level.”

Of the 317 Goldwater Scholars, 174 are men, 143 are women and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Twenty-eight scholars are mathematics majors, 223 are science and related majors, 54 are majoring in engineering, and 12 are computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines.

Established by Congress in 1986 to foster and encourage excellence in science and mathematics, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation supports study in mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences.

For more information on the Goldwater Scholarships, visit