Two of the three undergraduates awarded Goldwater Scholarships for the 2018-19 academic year are in the department of electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at Rice University.
Jakob Grzesik and Alex Hwang were nominated by Rice and selected based on academic merit from a field of 1,280 natural sciences, mathematics and engineering students nationwide. The scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
Grzesik, a sophomore from Virginia Beach, Va., majors in mathematics and electrical engineering, with a specialization in photonics, electronics and nanodevices. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical engineering or applied physics soon after graduation.
“I may or may not take some time studying abroad in between graduation and graduate school, but I’m not too sure on that,” Grzesik said. “What I know for sure is that I would like to learn more about solid state physics to further research new technologies, and quantum information in particular.”
Last summer’s Nakatani RIES Fellowship was “integral in sparking my interest in a research career,” said Grzesik, who works in the nanophotonics lab of Palash Bharadwaj, the Texas Instruments Assistant Professor of ECE. Next year, Grzesik will research spin-momentum locked photons in 2-D chiral nanostructures as part of the Rice Undergraduate Scholars Program.
“Additionally, for the upcoming summer, I will be in New York City for the Columbia Materials Research Science and Engineering Center Research Experiences for Undergraduates program,” he said.
Hwang, a junior from Palo Alto, Calif., majors in physics and electrical engineering. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics, and hopes to design nanophotonic devices addressing challenges in energy, sensing and computation. During the three months of his Nakatani RIES Fellowship, Hwang conducted nanomaterials research. “I learned so much about global research and collaboration,” he said. “This experience was also incredibly important in building my confidence as a research leader.”
He works in the lab of Gururaj Naik, assistant professor of ECE. Hang will be presenting present the results of his research into building a non-Hermitian nanophotonic device at the Materials Research Society Spring Meeting in Phoenix.
“Having such a large role in the lab has been an incredibly motivating and empowering experience as a young researcher,” Hwang said. “With the help of Guru, Ph.D. student Chloe Doiron and the other members of the Naik lab, I have matured into a more confident and competent young scientist.”
The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established in 1986. The scholarship program honoring Sen. Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. To date, the foundation has bestowed 8,132 scholarships worth approximately 65 million dollars.