Purdue students win prestigious Goldwater scholarships


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Solving what seems intractable in the fields of math and science is what propels the research conducted by three distinguished Purdue students and guides their academic achievements in STEM.

Ethan Brady, Colton Griffin and Arianna Meenakshi McNamara have been named 2022 Goldwater Scholars, the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. All three students are in the College of Science, and Brady and Griffin are also part of the John Martinson Honors College.

The honors come from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, established by Congress in 1986 as a coveted award offering up to $7,500 towards tuition and fees for sophomores and juniors. The goal of the Goldwater Fellowship is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers wishing to pursue research careers in these fields.

Purdue’s three recipients:

Ethan Brady

A native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Brady is a College of Science and Honors College junior pursuing a major in math, as well as computer science and math.

An extraordinary student capable of leading and mentoring others in undergraduate research, Brady found opportunities to build on his accomplished foundation. He first realized his interest in math research at a high school computer club and math summer camp.

“Researchers led my high school computer science club and lectured in my senior research class,” says Brady. “I knew math camp was unique when we spontaneously started an interesting math problem, solved it over dinner, and proved uniqueness that night.”

He hopes to pursue a doctorate. in applied mathematics. It aspires to study unsolved theoretical problems that have a direct application in science.

Brady developed his math abilities in high school and took them to the next level during his undergraduate work at Purdue with a desire to explore challenges and find new ideas.

“It’s hard to keep in mind in math conversations that he’s an undergrad,” says Uli Walther, a Purdue math professor and Brady’s academic mentor. “Ethan is very clearly invested in his goals. He is an overall excellent student with a modest, witty, and self-critical personality.

In addition to his scholarship, Brady has been involved with the Winter Service Project since his freshman year. He helped organize 1,600 volunteers this year to collect the leaves from 320 local homes.

Brady was recognized as a 2021 Purdue Outstanding Sophomore in the Department of Mathematics and was awarded the 2019 Purdue Trustees Scholarship. He was a 2019 National Merit Scholar and named a National Hispanic Scholar.

Colton Griffin

Colton Griffin is an Indianapolis junior in the College of Science and Honors College pursuing degrees in physics and mathematics.

Griffin plans to pursue a doctorate. in mathematical physics and conduct research in quantum information theory and quantum algebra.

Although his future involves heavy research, Griffin already knows his rigor well as an undergraduate.

“At such an early stage in his studies, Griffin has already developed an exceptional ability to perform research,” says Shawn Cui, assistant professor of math and physics at Purdue. “In less than six months, it produced enough significant results for us to write a research paper that incorporates those results.”

Griffin’s academic journey was a milestone in navigating mathematical research and analysis. The most important step, however, was learning to navigate his research around the specific ways he learns.

“My intense special interests and hyper-focus in math and physics are both important to my mental well-being and beneficial to my studies,” says Griffin. “I learned about its impact on the way I perceive and interact with the world.”

Griffin uses his gifts in math and physics to lead and mentor other science enthusiasts. He is president of the Purdue Society of Physics Students and a volunteer with Saturday Morning Astrophysics.

In 2021, Griffin received Purdue’s Outstanding Sophomore in Physics award.

Meenakshi McNamara

Hailing from New Salisbury, Indiana, Arianna Meenakshi McNamara is a sophomore in the College of Science majoring in Physics and Mathematics. She plans to pursue a doctorate. in theoretical physics and hopes to conduct research in quantum gravity.

A homeschooler, McNamara learned beneficial skills that carried over to undergraduate work.

“I took charge of my learning from an early age, which helped me a lot in college — especially during COVID — with the less directed online formats,” McNamara says.

Although working independently is a skill she has had since the beginning, she also enjoys and thrives in group work. “Although new to me, I appreciate the collaborative nature of the university through both coursework and research.”

McNamara joined a search party as a rookie and didn’t look back. Her interest in research led her group to contribute to the Journal of Modern Physics Letters A. About this achievement, she says, “It is extremely rewarding to make my work available to other researchers.

Currently, she is working on the phenomenology of a potential fifth force and axion connections.

His research work is confirmed by Ephraim Fischbach, professor of physics at Purdue.

“She often surprises us with the depth of her insights into any aspect of the axion problem we’re facing right now,” he says.

McNamara is active at the Purdue Math Club. She was instrumental in organizing the Intercollegiate Math Club’s social activity, teacher conferences, problem-solving sessions, and movie nights.

She was a 2020 National Merit Scholar, 2021 Outstanding Freshman in Physics, and received merit scholarships from each of Purdue’s math, physics, and astronomy departments.

About the Office of National and International Scholarships

The Office of National and International Scholarships is part of the John Martinson Honors College and coordinates the application process for scholarships and grants that require an academic appointment. Purdue students applying for prestigious awards such as the Goldwater Scholarship receive support and guidance through this office.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a leading public research institution that develops practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked in each of the past four years as one of the 10 most innovative universities in the United States by US News & World Report, Purdue delivers groundbreaking research and groundbreaking discoveries. Committed to hands-on, online, real-world learning, Purdue provides transformative education for all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, allowing more students than ever to graduate debt-free. Learn how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at https://stories.purdue.edu

Writer: Leslie Valiant, [email protected]

Media contact: Jim Bush, [email protected]


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