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Run on campus by Dr. Margaret Lamb, Director of the Clark Science Center, who requests nominations of sophomores from faculty. Up to four nominees are selected by the Science Planning Committee. http://www.act.org/goldwater/

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Mrs. Peggy Goldwater Clay, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, announced that the Trustees awarded 300 scholarships for the 2003-2004 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States. The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,093 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred sixty-one of the Scholars are men, 139 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Thirty-one Scholars are mathematics majors, 210 are science majors, 45 are majoring in engineering, and 12 are computer science related majors. Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines. The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Q. Our Goldwater campus selection committee is currently reviewing applications, and I have received a few queries regarding the research essay--specifically, how much weight it is given in relation to other factors. I believe the questions are in part prompted by the fact that most of the applicants have written about research in which they are or were involved, while a couple without significant hands-on research experience write about problems they would like to explore. Your thoughts, insights, wisdom, etc. would be much appreciated.

A. First, we have found that students without significant research experience are not likely to win, no matter how strong their essays are. For those with significant research experience, I don't think it is so much an issue of the "weight" given to the essay relative to the other individual components, as it is a matter of how effectively the essay rounds out the entire application. Yes, the essay is important, but I see it as validating the applicant's potential as reflected primarily in parts C and D, and verifying the applicant's promise as a scientist.

A. My understanding is that Goldwater looks at these factors in this sequence, with a cut being made at each stage: 1) Grades, 4.0 or very close to it. 2) Letters of recommendation, esp. for comments on research experiences 3) Experience in research, preferably several opportunities, with presentations, publications, etc., if possible 4) The rest of the student's application, including the research essay

The research essay complements the portrait of the candidate and their potential in research as presented elsewhere. Without high grades, strong letters, and research experience, the research essay is not really a factor.

How important are grades? The Goldwater rep at Tulsa said that the mean GPA of Goldwater Scholars was 3.95 "with a very small standard deviation."

"Not all research is treated equally. They tend to favor "pure research" in the sciences as opposed to applied research, practitioners, MD/PhD, and environmental sciences, although some candidates in these fields do receive awards."

Q. Does anyone have any experience with or feel for how a Math major without research experience might fare in the competition?

A. When I was at Kansas State, I worked with and knew of several math majors who won Goldwaters, all of whom had done some type of research, in math or computer science. I think the potential problem is not the student's major, but his/her lack of research.

A. I can see where the Math students will have a harder time getting research done. They cannot work in a lab! But the math professors on our campus are now being a lot more receptive to the idea of undergraduate research. There is another way math students can shine in the competition and that is the Putnam exam. Check out their website: http://math.scu.edu/putnam/. When we were in Arkansas the Goldwater reps talked about the Putnam exam. This is an exam administered by The Mathematical Association of America and is considered to be extremely challenging. Good scores on that exam are looked upon very favorably. I now work closely with our campus coordinator for Putnam exam to see if I can find eligible Goldwater candidates that way.

Q. I am brand new to the listserv (and the job!). One of my faculty asked me to call the Goldwater Foundation and ask why our candidates were not selected. Is this customary? Will it annoy them? (If every school called, the foundation would be bombarded.) Is there a more tactful approach? Because I am new, I was not involved in the selection nor did I see the applications. Any advice?

A. I have found the Goldwater Foundation to be very helpful in offering feedback both in general and in specific instances. It usually helps to wait until their process is complete, say late April, and then to phone to set a time to discuss your candidates. It is a remarkable mix of geographical distribution, competition in each state, and the student's record. I was told that there should be no grade below an A- in his or her major for the student to be in contention. Research experience is also important.