For three Cornell juniors in the College of Arts and Sciences, academic excellence has reaped material benefits. Joshua Goldman ’02, Justin Kinney ’02, and Jeffrey Vinocur ’02 recently won the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for science and mathematics, which awards up to $7,500 a year for tuition and books.
Goldman, Kinney, and Vinocur were among the 302 sophomores and juniors from across the country — out of an applicant pool of 1,164 applicants — who received Goldwater Scholarships.
Before they can compete at the national level, candidates must receive Cornell’s endorsement. They submit their application to Cornell’s endorsement committee, made up of three professors and a scholarship coordinator.
“Every institution is allowed to endorse four students,” said Beth Fiori, fellowship coordinator. “There was a lot of competition among good Cornell students for those four slots.”
Each of the recipients said that they were pleased and surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reaction of the Cornell community when they had won the scholarship.
“I’m elated at the response,” Goldman said. “Cornellians are pleased to see one of their own do well.”
The winners said that not only have fellow students been congratulating them, but also faculty members have been ready with a word of praise.
“I’ve been surprised by how much attention I’ve been getting,” Kinney said. “Many of my professors, not to mention [President] Hunter Rawlings, have congratulated me either via e-mail or in person.”
“It’s been great fun,” Vinocur agreed. “I got a whole flurry of e-mails, and several professors who I thought didn’t know my name congratulated me in person.”
Outstanding research is an integral part to winning the Goldwater Scholarship. The winners, who have all done extensive research, remarked that Cornell professors have been extremely supportive of their research.
“Cornell as a whole and the faculty in general have a great attitude towards seeing undergraduates get involved in research,” Goldwater said.
A Cornell Presidential Research Scholar, Goldman has done research in several areas at Cornell, and currently is investigating the properties of quasi-one-dimensional conductors.
Like Goldman, Kinney said that his physics professors are very interested in his research.
“Physics professors give a lot of attention to undergraduates,” noted Kinney, who did research with Cornell at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico last year.
This summer, he plans to do research on the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Hanford, Washington.
Vinocur is also doing research at Cornell.
“During the school year I do research in computer science, working on a provably crash-free programming language called Cyclone,” Vinocur explained.
Next week Vinocur will be presenting results from his biochemical research at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies.
Kinney discovered that he had won the scholarship in a rather unexpected way.
“I actually found out when a fellow winner [Vinocur] sent me a letter of congratulations!” Kinney said.
The Goldwater Foundation puts the names of the winners on its website before notifying the winners themselves. Vinocur discovered the online results before the winners were officially notified.
“All of us were sort of on a ‘first to see anything holler’ patrol, and being in Computer Science, I was probably keeping the best eye on it,” Vinocur said. “I actually wrote a little program to check the web every hour and send me an Instant Message when it was modified.”
Likewise, Goldman was the first to inform some of his friends that they had won.
“I happened to check the website a few minutes after they posted [the list of winners], so I e-mailed my friends [who were competing],” Goldman said.
In addition to impressive academic and research records, these students are also very active in the Cornell community.
Goldman, a physics major, is involved in numerous campus groups, including the Cornell Percussion Ensemble, Arts and Sciences Ambassadors program, Society of Physics Students and the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity.
“It all just seems to fall into place,” Goldman said. “Though I find myself up really late a little too often.”
Kinney balances his double major in physics and mathematics with karate and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.
Vinocur plays the clarinet in the Big Red Marching Band, has been on the course staff for the computer science department for five semesters and volunteers his summers at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia, Penn.
“I make time for things I care about,” Vinocur said. “Somehow it all works out.”
All three recipients intend to pursue higher degrees after graduation and plan to continue doing research. Goldman and Kinney plan to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, whereas Vinocur intends to apply to medical school.
Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in 1986 in recognition of former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) Since its inception, the foundation has encouraged academic excellence in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering.
Fiori noted that Cornell has a long record of recipients of the Goldwater Scholarship.
“I think they were surprised to win,” Fiori said. “I wasn’t. They’re all really brilliant.”
Archived article by Elisa Jillson