University of Rochester undergraduate Scott Barenfeld '12 has recently been named a 2011 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. Barenfeld is among the 275 recipients selected from a national pool of more than 1,100 candidates. Rising senior Mark Levin also received an honorable mention. Barenfeld is the 22nd Rochester student to be named a Goldwater Scholar since 2002, while Levin is the fifth student to receive an honorable mention.
Barenfeld, of Monroe, N.Y., is a rising senior working toward a bachelor of science degree in physics and astronomy and a minor in mathematics. His interest in astrophysics stems from high school, where physics was his favorite course of study. At Rochester, his interests have translated into work in Professor Eric Mamajek's research group. As a research assistant, he has spent the last academic year working with Professor Mamajek's postdoctoral student, Eric Bubar, studying the effects of supernovae on the composition of the next generation of stars. In summer 2010, Barenfeld participated in a research internship at the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, where he wrote computer code to help analyze data from the GALFACTS sky survey.
The idea of understanding how the world and universe work is what attracted him to the study of astronomy. "I really enjoy the process of conducting research," says Barenfeld. "It's exciting to be able to identify characteristics of stars—these objects that are so far away."
Outside of the laboratory, Barenfeld is an active member of the University community. A recipient of the University's Wilder Trustee Scholarship, he is a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, the Society of Physics Students, and the Society of Undergraduate Math Students. He has participated in community service projects through Rochester's M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence and plays the trombone in the University Pep Band. After graduation, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree in astrophysics.
Levin, of Cleveland, Ohio, will graduate next year with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and a minor in mathematics. He spent the summer 2010 participating in the German Academic Exchange Service-Research Internships in Science & Engineering Scholarship (DAAD-RISE) program. While in Germany, he worked in an organic chemistry laboratory at the Technical Institute of Braunschweig. In spring 2011, Levin was named an Amgen Scholar, which will help fund a summer research experience with the Toste Group at the University of California at Berkeley.
An ambassador for Rochester, Levin works as a meridian in the University's Office of Admissions, leading campus tours for prospective students. He also is a member of the Undergraduate Chemistry Council and serves as a resident advisor for the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services. Levin plans to earn an advanced degree in chemistry after graduation.
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 commitment to pursue research-oriented careers.