CSU undergraduates Rachel Masters (left) Alison Shad were named 2022 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Rachel Masters photo by John Eisele/CSU Photography; Alison Shad photo courtesy of Alison Shad
Two Colorado State University students are recipients of the country’s top undergraduate award dedicated to fostering the next generation of research leaders in natural sciences, engineering and mathematics.
Rachel Masters in the College of Natural Sciences and Alison Shad in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering were named 2022 Goldwater Scholars by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The prestigious honor includes scholarships of up to $7,500 per year for up to two years.
Masters and Shad were among the 417 sophomores and juniors selected from an estimated pool of more than 5,000 in the annual competition. The Goldwater Foundation this year awarded scholarships to six scholars from four Colorado institutions: CSU, the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and the Colorado School of Mines.
Rachel Masters kindled a passion for computer science at a young age, spending time with her father who works in information technology.
“I would get to go to his office and all of these guys would be talking about different computer science concepts and I was like, ‘This is magical,’” Masters said. “So, I started teaching myself different computer science concepts.”
Fast-forward and Masters is now at the cutting edge, studying virtual and augmented reality at CSU. Her research involves mixed reality applications that can help people primarily through mindfulness, health and education.
“I, and the College of Natural Sciences, want to congratulate Rachel on this outstanding achievement. Virtual reality is a cutting-edge field, and Rachel’s passion for interdisciplinary research and public service through technology is sure to advance this field even further.”
— Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences
Masters said she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computer science and a certificate in entrepreneurship to gain both the technical expertise and business acumen to turn her research into scalable products that can help improve lives.
Masters explained that getting the Goldwater Scholarship was critical as it will help her focus more on her coursework and research. She added that she hopes other CSU students will apply for this scholarship in the future.
“Getting a national award for science research and being recognized as someone who has the potential to make a difference means a lot to me,” Masters said. “I plan to make as big of a difference as I can.”
Chemical and Biological Engineering
As a future scientist and researcher, Alison Shad is eager to be a part of the emerging energy transition industry and contribute to a more sustainable world.
“Eventually, I wish to explore how I can take a comprehensive approach to solving interdisciplinary issues within the framework of environmental protection and clean energy,” she said.
At CSU, Shad has worked with multiple numerical simulations, chemical modeling and professional analytical software, which have led her to study how computational methods apply to engineering challenges.
“To be named a Goldwater Scholar is a tremendous honor. Alison’s accomplishments are truly inspiring, and we extend our congratulations to her on this extraordinary recognition.”
— David McLean, dean of the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering
This has allowed her to become involved in various research projects, such as her most recent collaboration with scientists at Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany, where she characterized pyrochlore-type ceramics through atomistic modeling, resulting in her co-authorship on a paper published in Frontiers in Chemistry. She also worked on developing energy materials using computational electrochemistry, which combines several disciplines of engineering with the goal of uncovering new methods to improve sustainable energy.
“My continued involvement in research has not only allowed me to gain a diverse skillset in technology and laboratory procedures, but also strengthened my desire to acquire a Ph.D. in engineering,” she said. “Working in different research settings has broadened my professional abilities and allowed me to apply my engineering studies to what I am passionate about.”
Shad added that she is thankful to everyone who has supported her on her research journey so far. “Receiving the Goldwater award inspires me to pursue research at the forefront of modern technology in order to address some of the world’s most pressing concerns,” she said.
Goldwater Scholarship Program
Established by Congress in 1986, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation operates an educational scholarship program designed to provide opportunities for outstanding U.S. students with excellent academic records and demonstrated interest in, and potential for, research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.
The scholarship award covers eligible expenses up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Scholarship recipients nominated as sophomores can expect to receive a maximum of two years of support.
Current CSU freshmen and sophomores interested in applying for a Goldwater Scholarship can contact Mary Swanson, program director of the Office for Scholarship and Fellowship Advising, at email@example.com.