University of Rochester undergraduates Gregory Bentsen and Nicholas Huang have been named 2010 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. Bentsen and Huang are among 278 recipients selected from a national pool of more than 1,100 candidates. Junior Alexander Federation also received an honorable mention. Bentsen and Huang are the 20th and 21st Rochester students named Goldwater Scholars since 2002, with four students receiving honorable mentions.
Bentsen, of North St. Paul, Minn., is a junior working toward a bachelor of science degree in physics and a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics. Bentsen's interest in physics and math has led to research work in Professor Sarada Rajeev's laboratory at Rochester, as well as at Stanford University in California. He intends to pursue a doctoral degree and teach and conduct research in academia.
"My main interest lies in theoretical physics," says Bentsen of his academic interests. "When you're exploring a subject, there are a million different avenues to search through, but you have to use your intuition to choose the right resources to find the answer."
Bentsen is a Renaissance Scholar at Rochester, which carries a full-tuition award and is offered to just the top 2 percent of students. As a resident in the Community Learning Center and the house manager, Bentsen leads the group in volunteer efforts and community service activities. In addition to holding past positions as a teaching assistant, Bentsen currently serves as a tutor for the Society of Physics Students. For his work in the classroom, Bentsen was awarded the Sophomore Honors Physics Award by faculty in the department and was recently elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Huang, of Butte, Mont., will graduate next year with a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering and a bachelor of arts degree in music. As a Take Five Scholar, Huang is able to spend a fifth year at Rochester tuition-free working on a long term project on human cognition and philosophy. On campus, he has conducted research at Professor Laurel Carney's auditory neuroscience laboratory. He also spent a summer working at the National Institutes of Health as a research intern. Huang would like to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. degree with the ultimate goal of focusing on the biomedical engineering research.
"By enrolling in a medical degree program, I'll gain clinical experience that will allow me to translate research into something that is useful in the outside world," says Huang. "It's all about creating devices that improve the way people live."
Huang is member of the Taiwanese Students Association, the Medieval Society, and the Biomedical Engineering Society. An accomplished pianist, Huang won the University's Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition in 2007. He is a perennial member of the Dean's List and also was recently elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
The Goldwater Scholarship, which is endowed by the U.S. Congress in honor of the late Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, is a competitive fellowship for undergraduate students in science, math, and engineering. The scholarship is worth up to $7,500. Each year, 10 to 20 sophomores and juniors compete for the four University nominations to the national competition. Applicants must rank in the top quartile of their class while demonstrating outstanding research skills, potential for advanced study in their fields, and a strong pursuit of research-oriented careers.