Goldwater Scholarship Awarded to Harvey Mudd Math Student

Havi Ellers, a junior majoring in mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, is the recipient of a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious national award for undergraduate STEM researchers. The award for undergraduate U.S. sophomores and juniors covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year. This year, 496 scholarships were awarded to college students across the United States.

Ellers was a Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention recipient last year. Over the summer of 2018, she did research in number theory (bounding the traces of Maass-Poincaré series) at a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at Texas A&M University. There, she worked with one other undergraduate and faculty mentor/associate professor Riad Masri.

During summer 2017, she participated in the WADE Into Research program for undergraduates at Wake Forest University. There, she worked with three other undergraduates and faculty adviser Katherine Thompson (now at Carnegie Mellon University) to study mathematical objects called quadratic forms. Ellers says she plans to pursue a PhD in pure mathematics—“that will hopefully make the world a better place”—then become a math professor and researcher at a university.

“I am honored to have been awarded the Goldwater scholarship, and am grateful to everyone who has helped and encouraged me in my pursuit of mathematics,” says Ellers, a former competitive gymnast who started a gymnastics club at Harvey Mudd, plays piano and is fluent in casual Japanese. “In a practical sense, the scholarship will help me to pay for my last year of school, and also the process of writing the application has given me the invaluable opportunity to organize my thoughts with respect to math.”

From an estimated pool of over 5,000 college sophomores and juniors, 1,223 natural science, engineering and mathematics students were nominated by 443 academic institutions to compete for the 2019 Goldwater scholarships. Of students who reported, 241 of the Scholars are men, 252 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a PhD as their highest degree objective. Sixty-two Scholars are mathematics and computer science majors, 360 are majoring in the natural sciences, and 74 are majoring in engineering. Many of the Scholars have published their research in leading journals and have presented their work at professional society conferences.

As the result of a partnership with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs (NDEP), the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation announced that its trustees more than doubled the number of Goldwater scholarships awarded for the 2019–2020 academic year. “As it is vitally important that the nation ensures that it has the scientific talent it needs to maintain its global competitiveness and security, we saw partnering with the Goldwater Foundation as a way to help ensure the U.S. is developing this talent,” said Jagadeesh Pamulapati, director of the NDEP program, about the new partnership. With the 2019 awards, this brings the number of scholarships awarded since 1989 by the Goldwater Foundation to 8,628 and a scholarship total to over $68 million.

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 HMC Department Chairs Committee nominates up to four students annually.