Washington and Lee University junior Clare Wilkinson of Warren, Vermont, has won a highly competitive 2016 Goldwater Scholarship, which promotes research careers in science, mathematics and engineering.
Wilkinson, a geology major and music minor, was among 252 scholars selected from a field of 1,150 sophomores and juniors nominated by their professors at colleges and universities around the country. The scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
Wilkinson plans to obtain a Ph.D. in geomorphology and hydrodynamics, specifically researching water dynamics to better understand how rivers control erosion of topography and alter the integrity of human-made structures. She is currently studying abroad in New Zealand.
“Clare is really an ideal student: attentive, astute, engaged, and is curious about all geology topics,” said Christopher E. Connors, William E. Pritchard III ’80 Professor of Geology at W&L. “I am delighted she has been selected as a Goldwater recipient. She has a very bright future as a professional geologist.”
“Clare is simultaneously serious and joyful about her work,” said David Harbor, professor of geology at W&L and Wilkinson’s primary research advisor. “She is a great experimenter, taking wonderful notes and making great observations. She is already a scientist who loves being part of discovery, which is truly thrilling, but which is only possible with careful observations or calculations. I expect to learn much more from her in the coming year.”
“To me, the Goldwater Foundation represents an investment in the future of STEM subjects and it is a recognition of true passion and dedication to a subject, a question, a dream,” said Wilkinson. “I am honored to have been selected for the award this year. Earning the Goldwater Scholarship is a distinction that has reminded me that when we work hard at what we love, we can achieve wonders.”
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Congress in 1986 to honor the former Arizona senator. The program is the premier undergraduate award of its type. Numerous recipients have gone on to win other prestigious scholarships, including the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Churchill, as well as National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.
Including Wilkinson, 17 Washington and Lee students have won Goldwater Scholarships since the program’s inception.