Three UR students have been named 2007 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Juniors Andrew Niles and Kathryn Knowles and sophomore Kristin Beck were honored for their academic excellence and commitment to future research in science, mathematics and/or engineering. According to the Goldwater Scholarship Web site, the award serves “to provide a continuing source of highly qualified individuals to those fields of academic study and research.”

The juniors will receive up to $7,500 to cover undergraduate expenses for their senior years. Beck, a sophomore, will receive up to $7,500 for each of her final two years of undergraduate study at UR.

Niles, who is pursuing an Honors mathematics degree, said the award is a sign that he is moving in the right direction.

“I was definitely very excited when I heard that I had gotten the award,” Niles said. “It gives me a lot of confidence going into my senior year.”

Niles spent the past summer at a Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program at Texas A&M University, researching algebraic geometry. In addition to an upcoming REU at Trinity College this summer, his future plans include becoming a research mathematician and professor.

At UR, Niles is the Managing Editor of the Journal of Undergraduate Research. He is also a teaching assistant in the math department, plays cello in the chamber orchestra and is the accompanist for the men’s and women’s glee clubs.

Knowles, a chemistry and math major, spent last summer at an REU right here at UR. Working with professor Richard Eisenberg, she researched efficient ways to synthesize catalysts for the production of hydrogen gas. This summer, she has another chemistry research opportunity lined up at North Carolina State University.

Knowles is involved in a number of activities on campus. She is a jumper for the varsity indoor and outdoor track teams, plays alto saxophone in the wind symphony and is a member of the Undergraduate Chemistry Council. She is also a workshop leader for a Quest organic chemistry class. She plans to pursue her Ph.D. in chemistry and eventually earn a professorship.

“[Being a workshop leader] has helped me realize that teaching is something I want to do,” Knowles said.

Beck, a physics and math major and music minor, has been doing quantum optics research at UR since the beginning of her sophomore year with professor Nicholas Bigelow. Before that, she spent the summer at a physics REU at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Also, she has been accepted to work on an atomic optical clock for the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Colorado this summer.

She is also the co-founder of the WRUR radio show “Science Matters” (with senior Bob Penna), secretary of the Society of Physics Students, flautist in the wind symphony and a member of the club fencing team. She currently carries a 4.0 grade point average.

Each year, approximately 15 to 20 UR sophomores and juniors apply for the esteemed scholarship. A school is only allowed to nominate four students and, thus, a committee made up of UR faculty reviews the applications and chooses the four that display the strongest case for nomination. Those applications are then sent to the Goldwater Foundation for review. Approximately 300 students from across the country are named Goldwater Scholars.

According to UR Director of Fellowships Belinda Redden, this is the fourth time in six years that UR has had three Goldwater Scholars.

“I’m delighted to have this many of our students win the Goldwater again,” Redden said. “Everyone knows that UR is a very strong school for science students, and it’s nice to see our students get national recognition for their achievements.”

The winners praised Redden for working with them to make their applications strong.

“She organizes it all, reads your application three or four times, makes sure it’s perfect,” Knowles said. “She is key. Her secretary, Amy Preziosi, also helped a lot with organization, telling us what we needed to hand in.”

Knowles also noted that more students should take advantage of the availability of the award in the years to come.

“I would really encourage other people to apply for it,” Knowles said. “There are so many good science students at UR. You really have nothing to lose.”

Moeller is a member of the class of 2009.

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