Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) junior Sarah Mattessich has been named a 2011 Goldwater Scholar by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The Goldwater Scholarship program fosters and encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering, and is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields. Since 2002, 17 WPI students have been named Goldwater Scholars or honorable mention recipients.
Established in 1986 to honor U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, the foundation has awarded more than 6,600 scholarships worth approximately $58 million dollars. This year's 275 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,095 undergraduates studying mathematics, science, and engineering who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
"We are thrilled by the recognition of the quality and relevance of WPI's undergraduate programs, demonstrated by the number of our students who have been selected for this important award," said WPI Provost Eric Overstrom. "The accomplishments by Sarah Mattessich exemplify the innovative and important work being done at WPI."
Mattessich, a native of Woodbridge, Conn., is a biomedical engineering major who plans to pursue an MD/PhD and conduct research on tissue engineering. She has had several substantial research experiences at Yale University's School of Medicine, the Yale Biomedical Engineering Department, and the WPI Biomedical Engineering Department. Most recently, Mattessich worked on efforts to develop bioengineered skin substitutes in Professor George Pins' laboratory at WPI and presented this research to professional conferences in Worcester and Austin, Texas. In fall 2010, she worked with a team of students at the WPI Project Center in Costa Rica to study the feasibility of implementing United Nations protocols for handling technological disasters in the community. She is president of the biomedical engineering honors society at WPI, the external philanthropy chair of her sorority, Alpha Xi Delta; and a member of Tau Beta Pi, Habitat for Humanity, and other organizations on campus. Mattessich competes on several Ultimate Frisbee teams, and plays the violin in string ensembles at WPI.
Of the 2011 scholars, 170 are men and 105 are women; virtually all intend to obtain a PhD. Twenty-four scholars are mathematics majors, 194 are science and related majors, 52 are engineering majors, and five are computer science majors (many have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines).
Goldwater scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious postgraduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 77 Rhodes Scholarships (including four for 2011), 108 Marshall Awards, 98 Churchill Scholarships, and numerous other distinguished fellowships.