Three CU students win coveted Goldwater scholarships

Published: April 11, 2014

Three CU-Boulder undergraduates -- Jasmine Brewer, a junior in engineering physics, Brennan Coffey, a junior in chemical engineering and applied mathematics, and Ryan Dewey, a junior in astrophysics and physics -- have been awarded prestigious Goldwater Scholarships for 2014.

The scholarships are worth up to $7,500 each and are awarded annually to sophomores and juniors across the nation on the basis of high academic merit.

The three 2014 Goldwater Scholars from CU-Boulder were among 283 elite scholars selected from a field of 1,116 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by faculty members from colleges and universities nationwide.

“CU-Boulder has an excellent record in the national Goldwater Scholars competition,” said Deborah Viles, director of the university’s Office of Top Scholarships. “Our success in having three student winners this year illustrates the national prominence of CU-Boulder’s math, science and engineering programs. We’re all very proud of these extraordinarily talented scholars, all of whom show great promise as future leaders in their fields.” There also were three CU-Boulder Goldwater scholarship winners in 2013.

Brewer’s interests lie at the boundary between physics and pure mathematics. Working with physics Assistant Professor Paul Romatschke, Brewer is focused on developing and analyzing simulations of a strongly interacting, ultracold quantum fluid known as Fermi gas. She hopes to develop more effective simulations to better understand the behavior of strongly interacting quantum fluids and quark-gluon plasma, a newly discovered material created in heavy ion collisions.

She also works with physics Assistant Professor Ivan Smalyukh’s group, studying the interactions between particles suspended in liquid crystal materials. Brewer, also a drummer and a jazz enthusiast, plans to pursue a doctorate in mathematical physics.

Coffey has been working in the lab of chemical and biological engineering Professor Daniel Schwartz studying the diffusion of polymers at the solid-liquid interface using fluorescence microscopy to track molecular motion. He also spent three summers working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory working with data from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite that measures amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Coffey, also a member of the national Engineering Honor Society, Tau Beta Pi, plans to pursue a doctorate in materials engineering. He specifically is interested in the dynamics of polymers in hopes of helping to improve drug delivery systems. He enjoys skiing and bodybuilding in his free time.

Dewey, the third CU-Boulder Goldwater Scholar, is working with Professor Daniel Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, to use data from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft now orbiting Mercury to explore how solar phenomena drive the processes of the planet’s magnetosphere and its wispy thin atmosphere known as the exosphere.

Dewey plans to earn a doctorate in heliophysics and eventually conduct research in space physics and solar weather. He also is involved with the university’s Presidents Leadership Class and spends time in the summers at a Boy Scout camp working with participants to help them earn merit badges. He also enjoys camping, hiking, skiing and astronomy. 

Viles said she encourages high-achieving students with strong research backgrounds to apply for the Goldwater Scholarships next year. For more information email Viles at