James Saxon ’09 was one of 321 juniors and seniors nationally who won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship this year. Mark Mai ’09 received an honorable mention. This highly competitive scholarship is selected “on the basis of academic merit” from students in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering who are nominated by their school.
At Swarthmore, interested students are invited to apply internally; the College then nominates four students. The application “consists of the typical questions, reflecting what one has accomplished,” according to Mai. It also includes a proposal for a project in the student’s field of interest.
Saxon, a physics and political science double-major, plans to obtain a Ph.D. in experimental particle physics, followed by “large collaborations to build experiments and study properties of elemental particles,” according to the Goldwater website. He is studying abroad and could not be reached for comment.
Mai, an honors major in biology with a minor and course major in linguistics, wrote his proposal on “Directed Differentiation of and maintenance of mammalian inner ear hair cells from embryonic stem cells.”
The scholarship will cover up to $7,500 of undergraduate expenses for Saxon’s senior year. According to Melissa Mandos, Swarthmore’s Fellowships and Prizes Advisor, the Goldwater is different from most other grants managed by her office in that it is for undergraduate studies, as opposed to graduating seniors or alumni.
Swarthmore typically receives one or two Goldwater scholarships per year. Last year, Eric Astor ’08 and Jeremy Freeman ’08 won. According to Mandos, Swarthmore has received at least one Goldwater scholar every year since 1992, except for the year 2004.