APS News

APS Selects 25 as 2003-2004 Undergraduate Minority Scholars

The APS has awarded Scholarships for Minority Undergraduates to 25 students who are majoring or planning to major in physics.

Since its inception in 1980, the program has helped more than 290 minority students pursue physics degrees. Fourteen new scholars and 11 renewal scholars were selected.

Each new scholarship consists of $2000, which may be renewed once, and each renewal scholarship consists of $3000.

Minority Scholar Barry Barrios has had a deep interest in science since he was a child, and his interest in physics in particular stems from attending an MIT program in which he applied physics to his mechanical engineering class.

He and his group built a robotic model car capable of climbing inclines and performing tasks such as picking up small rings. He hopes to one day be a neurosurgeon, using his physics background to build new surgical tools.

Barrios has also overcome extremely difficult circumstances in his home life, currently in foster care and traveling two hours each way by bus to attend high school. Yet he continues to excel in his schoolwork, and studies Greek twice a week in the mornings to augment his Latin studies.

Music is a prevailing passion for Minority Scholar Laura Burton, who is ranked one of the finest flautists in the state of Florida, and also plays piano and piccolo for Olympia High School's jazz band, symphonic band, wind ensemble and marching band. Yet her dream career is to do astrophysical research at NASA, having always been fascinated by the stars as a child.

In addition to excelling at her studies, she tutors other students in physics, and serves as Treasurer of the National Honor Society.

A member of the Cherokee tribe, Joshua Smart cites Sir Isaac Newton as his scientific role model.

Newton's Principia, which laid much of the groundwork for classical physics, is what inspired the young man to pursue a physics education, and he hopes to eventually earn a PhD in physics. "I want to have a career in something that will always be challenging to me, a job that won't get monotonous and dull," he said, "and I like the research projects, problem-solving and cutting-edge aspects of physics."

Smart, who has been home-schooled, attends the Ardmore Regional Center of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, where he is one of the top students, and spent two summers as an agricultural lab assistant at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to gain some practical scientific experience.

The APS scholarship program operates under the auspices of the APS Committee on Minorities in Physics, and is supported by funds allocated from the APS Campaign for Physics.

Scholarships are awarded to African-American, Hispanic American and Native American students who are high school seniors, college freshmen, or sophomores.

The selection committee especially encourages applications from students enrolled in institutions with historically Black, Hispanic or Native American enrollment. After being selected, each scholar is matched with an accomplished physicist to act as a mentor.

For applications for the 2004-2005 competition, contact Arlene Modeste Knowles at knowles@aps.org.

More information.

New Scholarships
Barry Barrios
Laura Burton
Daniel Casanova
Riyad Gargoum
Nicolas Lopez
Michael Maindi
Matthew Ornelas-Kuh
Ayodele Osasona
Alejandro Rodriguez
Joshua Smart
Michael Tambe
Pedro Urquedez
Rebecca Voorhees
Soun-Ja Walters

Renewal Scholarships
Gabriel Arma-Cardona
Daniel Gacias
Micah Hawkins
Julian Holder
Jon Lamberson
Daniel Noval
Manuel Reyes
Amanda Rice
Matthew Sievert
Tonia Venters
Elspeth Whetten Allen

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette