Three CU students win prestigious national Goldwater scholarships

Three University of Colorado Boulder students -- Brittany Earle, Mike Lotto and Jeni Sorli, all from the College of Engineering and Applied Science -- have been awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarships.

The scholarships are worth up to $7,500 and recognize sophomores and juniors who have achieved high academic merit and who are expected to be leaders in their fields.

The CU-Boulder students are among only 271 Goldwater Scholars selected from a pool of 1,107 candidates from universities and colleges nationwide. A fourth CU-Boulder student, junior Ben Gerard, was recognized with a Goldwater honorable mention.

“It’s an honor for CU to be among the few institutions whose four Goldwater nominees were all recognized by the foundation,” said Deborah Viles, CU-Boulder’s top scholarship director. “Such success is a testament to the exceptional talent of our undergraduates, who are the next leaders in their fields, and to the high quality of our math, science and engineering programs.” 

Earle, a sophomore in chemical engineering, works in Professor Christopher Bowman’s campus laboratory, which focuses on polymerics, developing new materials and mechanisms for many biomedical applications. Earle’s project focuses on a dual-cure polymer system for ophthalmic stents used to treat patients with glaucoma.

She also is active in the CU-Boulder chapter of Engineers Without Borders and traveled to the Ilam district in Nepal last summer. There she worked on a spring source protection system to help protect the area’s drinking water from agricultural runoff. She is a Boettcher Scholar and a member of the Presidents Leadership Class.

Lotto is a junior majoring in aerospace engineering and is interested in space research and flight. He has worked for two semesters with the NASA International Space Station Program’s Extravehicular Activity group, supporting the real-time training and operations required to accomplish spacewalks.

His most recent research at CU-Boulder is under the guidance of Professor David Klaus and includes acting as a project manager of a research team performing experiments in reduced gravity environments onboard NASA’s Vomit Comit.

Sorli, a sophomore majoring in chemical and biochemical engineering, is interested in renewable transportation fuels and clean energy. She works in the campus laboratory of Professor Alan Weimer, executive director of the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, or C2B2.

Her particular research interest is biomass. In the lab she’s worked on a bioreactor that was used to run a series of biomass gasification reactions. She presented the results at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers National Conference in Pittsburgh in 2012. She also is a Norlin Scholar and received the CU Presidential Scholarship.

Gerard is a junior majoring in astronomy and physics. He is working on a project to help detect eclipsing RR Lyrae stars, which he equates to finding a needle in a haystack.

“High achieving sophomores and juniors with strong research backgrounds are encouraged to apply next year,” said Viles.  

To apply, interested students should contact Viles directly at for more information.

Deborah Viles, 303-735-6801
Greg Swenson, CU media relations, 303-492-3113