University of Colorado Boulder student Andrew Nelson has been awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.
The scholarship is worth up to $7,500 and recognizes sophomores and juniors who have achieved high academic merit and who are expected to be leaders in their fields.
The CU-Boulder student is among only 260 Goldwater Scholars selected from a pool of 1,206 mathematics, science and engineering students from universities and colleges nationwide.
“In winning the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, Andrew represents the high quality of the math, science and engineering programs at CU,” said Deborah Viles, CU-Boulder’s top scholarship director. “His talent as well as the varied experiences and opportunities he’s had at CU combine to make him an emerging leader in his field. We’re very proud of Andrew, and proud that CU continues its long history of Goldwater winners.”
CU-Boulder has had at least one Goldwater Scholar every year since 2005, and Nelson is CU-Boulder’s 37th Goldwater Scholar since the award’s inception in 1989.
Nelson, a junior engineering physics major who grew up in Boulder, became interested in studying fusion as an energy source after attending a campus talk hosted by the Department of Physics and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, where he also worked as a student in a laboratory.
“We have a really, really strong physics department, and learning everything I need to know in my classes has made it really easy to apply that knowledge to research in a lab,” Nelson said. “My position at NIST also helped me learn a lot of lab skills that you wouldn’t necessarily get in class.”
Nelson spent a semester last year working on proton fast ignition at the Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany to gain experience in the highly specialized field. As an undergraduate, he also has been a co-author on two scientific papers.
Outside of his schoolwork and research, Nelson is president of the campus chapter of Engineers Without Borders, with which he traveled to Rwanda last summer to build a rainwater catchment system for a small village.
He also plays Ultimate Frisbee for CU-Boulder’s club sports team Mambird, which won the national championship last year.
“CU-Boulder has so many clubs and programs to join, it has really been huge for me to have these outlets and to hang out with people that I can really relate to,” Nelson said.
Nelson plans to pursue a PhD in plasma physics where he hopes to conduct research related to developing nuclear fusion technologies as a practical and reliable commercial energy source.
Viles said she encourages high-achieving students with strong research backgrounds to apply for a Goldwater Scholarship next year. To apply, interested students should contact Viles at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Deborah Viles, 303-735-6801
Greg Swenson, CU-Boulder media relations, 303-492-3113