Five students have been named 2020–2021 Goldwater Scholars, ranking the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, first in the country for the prestigious award.
The Goldwater Scholarship Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor US Senator Barry M. Goldwater. The most prestigious undergraduate STEM scholarships in the United States, Goldwater Scholarships are awarded to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 annually to cover tuition, fees, books, and room and board. An estimated pool of more than 5,000 sophomores and juniors nationwide applied this year for the Goldwater.
“To lead the country in Goldwater Scholars is a tremendous achievement, a reflection of our nationally competitive undergraduates, and of course a credit to these five outstanding future STEM research leaders,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor David Manderscheid, who is also a professor of mathematics. “These results also underscore our robust undergraduate research infrastructure and the high quality of faculty mentoring our undergraduates receive.”
Several thousand sophomores and juniors nationwide seek their institution’s nomination to the Goldwater national competition. UT can nominate up to five undergraduates. This year 396 Goldwater Scholars were named from the 1,343 students nationwide nominated by 461 colleges and universities.
“The Goldwater competition is rigorous and unfolds over several months, which gives our staff a chance to get to know the students, their goals, and what drives them. Their passion for discovery really rubs off,” said Andrew Seidler, director of UT’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, which facilitates the campus nomination process. “Seeing their potential recognized in this way is so satisfying—personally and professionally. It’s exciting to imagine what lies ahead for them”
Kristopher Reynolds, a junior from Coalfield, Tennessee, studying chemistry and biology
Reynolds is a Marine Corps veteran and currently serves as the president of UT’s SALUTE chapter, a national veterans honor society working to serve student veterans. The organization helps connect students with resources about education and career planning. At UT, he is conducting research regarding molecular electronics and integrated circuits and spent the prior two summers conducting research at Harvard.
“I am tremendously honored to have been selected as a Goldwater Scholar and join a community of talented scientists and leaders in shaping the way we conduct research to become more inclusive and tackle the scientific challenges that the world faces and will face in the near future,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds plans to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry, studying the charge and mass transport phenomena between material interfaces. Reynolds ultimately wants to lead a research group at a university or national laboratory.
“We must always remember that science knows no ethnicity or gender; it knows only curiosity and truth, and as long as we confront nature with an open mind, she will humble us every day,” Reynolds said.