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Four UW–Madison students named 2020 Goldwater Scholars — the most possible for any institution

April 8, 2020 By Doug Erickson

Four University of Wisconsin–Madison students have been named winners of 2020 Barry Goldwater Scholarships, one of the most prestigious awards in the U.S. conferred upon undergraduates studying the sciences.

Each American university may nominate up to four undergraduates for the award each year. It is particularly special that all four of UW–Madison’s nominees this year were chosen to receive scholarships, says Julie Stubbs, director of UW’s Office of Undergraduate Academic Awards.

“I’m so proud of the four scholars and our university,” Stubbs says. “Elizabeth, Mitchell, Mostafa and Stella’s success with the Goldwater Scholarship is a testament to their intrinsic motivation and drive, but also reflective of a campus culture that supports undergraduate research.”

The four UW–Madison students are among 396 Goldwater Scholars named this year out of 1,343 college sophomores and juniors nominated by 461 academic institutions.

Goldwater Scholarships support undergraduates in the last two years of their bachelor’s degree programs. A sophomore who is a Goldwater Scholar receives up to $7,500 in each of the next two academic years. A junior who is a Goldwater Scholar receives up to $7,500 for the senior year of study.

UW–Madison’s winners:

  • Junior Mostafa Hassan, of Greenfield, Wisconsin, will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer engineering. He is a 2017 winner of the Wisconsin Math, Science, and Engineering Talent Search, a proctored competitive written examination, and a recipient of the prestigious Van Vleck Scholarship at UW–Madison. His freshman year, Hassan completed a theoretical physical chemistry project with Professor Edwin Sibert. The following summer, he completed a number-theory project with Naser Talebizadeh Sardari, a postdoctoral fellow. The collaboration resulted in a co-authored paper that is in the process of being submitted for publication. Hassan is currently working on a tensor-rank project with mathematics Professor Jordan Ellenberg, and he is completing directed reading on dispersive partial differential equations with mathematics Professor Mihaela Ifrim in preparation for future research. Hassan plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics, with an interest in partial differential equations and harmonic analysis.
  • Junior Stella Ma, of Madison, Wisconsin, will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and nutritional sciences, and honors in research. As a rising high school senior and incoming college freshman, Ma spent summers working in the lab of Professor Emery Bresnick in the Department of Cell and Regenerative Biology. As an undergraduate, she has conducted research in two laboratories simultaneously for over two years. In Professor Anna Huttenlocher’s lab in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Ma studies innate immune system interactions with wounds and cancer, earning authorship on an in-progress manuscript. In chemistry Professor Helen Blackwell’s lab in the Department of Chemistry, Ma studies the chemistry of bacterial communication in the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes and is currently working on a co-authored manuscript. Additionally, Ma initiated a collaboration between the two laboratories, investigating the role of monocytogenes communication in infection. She has received research fellowships from the Biochemistry Department, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and the Provost’s Office. Ma plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in immunology and conduct research on cancer immune-system interactions.
  • Junior Elizabeth Sumiec, of Sussex, Wisconsin, will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and certificates in global health and development economics. Sumiec has been engaged in research since her freshman year. For two years, she has worked in the laboratory of human oncology Professor Zachary Morris at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, where she collaborates on four projects. She is chiefly responsible for one of those projects, an investigation into the potential therapeutic interaction of radiation therapy and a novel GIFT4 B cell therapy. She received the Hilldale Undergraduate Research Fellowship as a sophomore and is scheduled to present her work at an upcoming meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. She also is co-author on two manuscripts, one of which was recently submitted to the journal Frontiers in Immunology. Sumiec plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in cancer biology.
  • Junior Mitchell Wall, of Brooklyn, Wisconsin, will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics. For three years, Wall has worked in the structural dynamics laboratory of engineering physics Professor Matthew Allen, where he has earned first authorship on two articles published in the conference proceedings of the Society for Experimental Mechanics, and co-authorship on manuscripts submitted to the Journal of Sound and Vibration and the International Journal of Mechanical Sciences. Additionally, Wall has interned with ATA Engineering, which specializes in engineering services for the aerospace industry. He also took a leadership role with Badgerloop, a student organization that competes in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition. Wall, who received a Hilldale Undergraduate Research Fellowship as a sophomore, and the prestigious national Astronaut Scholarship, will intern at SpaceX in summer 2020. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

Congress established the Barry Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Foundation in 1986. Goldwater served in the U.S. Senate for over 30 years and challenged Lyndon B. Johnson for the presidency in 1964. The foundation aims to develop highly qualified scientists, engineers and mathematicians.