Juniors Fikre Beyene (Physics) and Lyle Nyberg (Biology and Chemistry) have been selected as Goldwater Scholars, and junior Andris Bibelnieks (Math, Physics & Computer Science), as Goldwater Honorable Mention. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type for students pursuing research careers in STEM.
Winners receive up to $7,500 for undergraduate education costs. More valuable than the monetary award is the moniker “Goldwater Scholar,” which serves as a shorthand to graduate and fellowship programs that these STEM students are among the nation’s top undergraduates in their respective areas. For example, recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 86 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Awards, 123 Churchill Scholarships, and numerous other distinguished fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.
Lyle, Fikre, and Andris were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,206 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. Each college, regardless of the size or kind of institution, can nominate only four candidates. Candidates are carefully vetted by each sponsoring institution so the resulting field is formidable.
This year, among Minnesota private schools, Augsburg had the highest number of scholars (Augsburg with two and St. Olaf and Gustavus each with one), and when honorable mentions are included Augsburg rose to the top as well.
All Augsburg nominees participated in research on campus under the guidance of faculty mentors. Augsburg’s STEM departments are dedicated to creating opportunities where students can play a significant role in the research process. These experiences helped students develop a deeper understanding of their projects and their fields, as was evident in the quality of their applications.
Fikre Beyene (Sundquist Scholar, McNair Scholar, Rossing Physics Honorable Mention ’14, Rossing Physics Scholar ’15, and AugSTEM scholar) has worked in Dr. David Murr’s space physics lab and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Cosmology and conduct research investigating dark matter and the early stages of the universe. He will continue his research with Dr. Murr this summer.
Lyle Nyberg (Lindstrom Scholar) has worked with Dr. Vivian Feng at the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology housed at the U of M. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and enlist in the Air Force where he hopes to conduct research aboard the International Space Station. Last fall he was selected to participate in an informational weekend at the famous Scripps Research Institute in Florida In April, he co-presented (with Augsburg student Hilena Frew) his research on nanotechnology at Harvard University. This summer he will be conducting research at University of Pennsylvania.