Junior Erin Brown, Physics and Math Major, Selected for Goldwater Scholarship

April 14, 2014 — Erin Brown, a junior at Allegheny College, has been selected for a 2014 Goldwater Scholarship. A second Allegheny student, neuroscience major Neal Shah, was selected for an Honorable Mention.

Brown, who was an honorable mention last year, is a double major in physics and mathematics. She is from Gainesville, Georgia.

The Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to only 300 students annually, from an applicant pool of 1,200 to 1,500. Applicants must have research experience, plan to attend graduate school and intend to prepare for a long-term research career in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM). A GPA of at least 3.7 is also required. Brown plans to earn her Ph.D. and then teach and conduct research at the university level.

Brown is president-elect of the Society of Physics Students and serves as a writing consultant for Allegheny’s Maytum Learning Commons. She has worked on research projects both with professors in the Allegheny physics department and at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Exceptional Research Opportunities Program.

“Being at Allegheny has been beneficial for me because of the closeness and support system within the department,” she said. “I’ve had more research opportunities here than I might have had at a larger research university where graduate students do the bulk of the work. The emphasis Allegheny places on writing is important for practical work—for example writing grant proposals, publishing your work, and generally communicating your research.”

Visiting Professor of Religious Studies and History Patrick Jackson identifies and mentors high-achieving students for national fellowships. He then helps them navigate the application process.

“All nationally competitive awards at Allegheny start with a large pool of potential candidates,” he said. “This year, we had five potential applicants for the Goldwater Scholarship. Three were nominated. Erin already had a strong application when she walked through my door.”

“Goldwater wants to pick the best students now so that in 25, 50, 75 years, the very top scientific minds in America will be Goldwater scholars,” Jackson said. “Having this title is almost free entry into any graduate school. It’s a big deal.”