Three Harvey Mudd College students have received the most prestigious national award for undergraduate STEM researchers. Christopher Hoyt ’18, Jonas Kaufman ’17 and Dina Sinclair ’17 each received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year.
The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,150 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the institutional representatives of 415 colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred forty-four of the scholars are men, 108 are women and virtually all intend to obtain a PhD as their degree objective.
Christopher Hoyt, Math Club treasurer for the HMC chapter of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and a grader for the Department of Mathematics, expressed gratitude for guidance received and opportunities made possible by mathematics professors at Harvey Mudd (Francis Su, Talithia Williams and Art Benjamin) and University of Wyoming (Carolyn Rasmussen and Anne Sylvester).
“In past summers, I worked with Dr. Sylvester and Dr. Rasmussen at the University of Wyoming in order to analyze the phenotypes of Maize mutants using various methods of microscopy,” says Hoyt. “The first summer, I found that a particular Maize mutant named Warty2 had direct connections to Maize’s ability to withstand drought stress. The second summer, I conducted research on TANGLED, a mutant that alters the cell division orientation, causing the cells to become disorganized in the leaves of mature plants. Last year, I worked with Dr. Rasmussen again at the University of California at Riverside in order to develop a computational method of taking images of cells and producing an approximation of where the future division sites will occur.”
This summer, Hoyt will conduct research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 2016 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program in Boulder, Colorado. During this prestigious 11-week program, Hoyt will work with Jeanne Quimby and the Metrology Wireless Group conducting measurements of wireless propagation channels using NIST’s robotic system in order to develop standards for the next generation of wireless cellular communications systems.
A member of engineering Professor Lori Bassman’s research team, physics major Jonas Kaufman is helping develop novel high entropy alloys, a family of metallic alloys that have the potential to replace many traditional alloys due to vastly superior properties that can be tailored to specific applications. His focus is on modeling mechanical properties of these alloys through ab initio atomistic simulation.
“I have been developing techniques to calculate generalized stacking fault energies of complex alloys, which can be used to predict and understand their deformation behavior,” says Kaufman. “We have an ongoing research collaboration with School of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. I spent last summer there doing computation and will be returning this summer to conduct experimental work.”
Kaufman, who is active on campus as a dorm president and a facilitator for Academic Excellence, looks forward to conducting computational and experimental materials research and teaching at the university level after earning a PhD in materials science and engineering.
Mathematics major Dina Sinclair has worked for the past two years with mathematics Professor Rachel Levy doing computational fluid dynamics. Their research looked at ways in which lung surfactants are modeled so that doctors can better understand how to medicate premature babies whose lungs are surfactant deficient.
Sinclair, a facilitator for Academic Excellence, Office of Admission tour guide and dorm mentor, will present her work at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Annual Meeting in Boston this summer.
For the Goldwater, she wrote a proposal that looks at using linear programming and differential equations modeling to optimize water and sanitation aid distribution in small non-constant populations, such as refugee camps.
“I’m really grateful to Prof Levy and others who’ve guided me through the research process and inspired me to keep looking for ways to use mathematical modeling to improve the world we live in,” says Sinclair, who is living with a host family and studying computer science and sociology at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid during the 2016 spring semester.
The scholarship program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. All Harvey Mudd sophomores and juniors are eligible to compete for the Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded on the basis of academic merit. The Department Chairs Committee nominates up to four students annually.