APS News

APS Selects 26 as 2004-2005 Undergraduate Minority Scholars

The APS has awarded Scholarships for Minority Undergraduates to 26 students who are majoring or planning to major in physics. Since its inception in 1980, the program has helped more than 300 minority students pursue physics degrees. Eighteen new scholars and eight renewal scholars were selected. Each new scholarship consists of $2000. This may be renewed once, at a level of $3000.

Minority scholar Peter Blair spent part of his childhood in Jamaica before his parents relocated to the US. He comes by his interest in science naturally: both his parents are chemists. Now a sophomore at Duke University, Blair has experienced firsthand the challenges facing a minority student at a predominantly white school, and he has made it his mission to become a professor of physics so that future generations of aspiring black physicists will have a role model.

To that end, he is a physics mentor in the tutoring program at Duke, and is active in the Duke Students of the Caribbean Association. He is also a research assistant on a Duke study to evaluate the effectiveness of NSF and DOE initiatives aimed at enhancing minority participation in physics.

His fluency in French came in handy when he spent last summer in Paris, studying the French avant-garde movement. This fall he will become president-elect of Duke's Society for Physics Students chapter. His dream is "to be an excellent physicist with a heart for giving back to the community."

A senior at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax Virginia, Minority scholar Christopher Hain attributes his interest in physics to a natural curiosity and thirst for unsolved problems. "Physics is constantly opening up new and unexplored areas that require fresh minds and new points of view," he says. He is one of the top students in his physics class, frequently earning perfect scores on exams, and last year performed an independent study experiment to determine the effect of molecular weight on the index of refraction.

In addition to his studies, Hain is a varsity athlete on the cross-country team, and sings baritone in the choral department. He also volunteers as a youth soccer coach and spends one week each summer with an organization called HOMES, which demolishes old houses and builds new ones for impoverished families. He sees physics in everything as he goes about his daily life, and says he wants to major in physics "to give my imagination direction and put it to practical and beneficial use." Hain will attend Stanford University in the fall.

Minority scholar Lauren Oldja is a senior at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, and will be attending MIT this fall.

Inspired in part by Richard Feynman, who emphasized the joy of physics, Oldja says she is most intrigued by physics because "It blends the practicality of observable research with the purity of mathematical theory."

Among her many science-related activities, Oldja is on the robotics team and won an award for lightest vehicle in the Physics I Mousetrap Car competition. She is also involved in multimedia with Lakewood's Center for Advanced Technology. In addition to her studies, she participates in the Drama Club and Spanish Honor Society. In her spare time, she volunteers at local museums and at the Center Against Spouse Abuse, and participates in the Bay Area Renaissance Festival. She has also spent time designing and maintaining the Website and creating 2D graphics for FOX Thirteen Magazine, a Saturday morning TV show on teen issues.

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 or college freshmen or sophomores.

The selection committee especially encourages applications from students enrolled in institutions with historically African American, 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 Minority Scholarships
Samuel Alemayehu
Peter Blair
Cesar Caro
Micaela Casas
Brian Chavarria
Bree Guerra
Christopher Hain
Gilbert R. Lee IV
Michael Maindi

Matthew McDonell
William Miller
Curtis Morales
Jeremy Morales
Lauren Oldja
James Silva
Sharon Torres
Ilse van Meerbeek
Yonas Yemane
Renewal Scholarships
Barry Barrios
Laura Burton
Ayodele Osasona
Alejandro Rodriguez
Joshua Smart
Michael Tambe
Pedro Urquedez
Soun Ja Walters

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette