Oklahoma State University student Nicholas H. Nelsen has been selected as a 2017 Barry Goldwater Scholar, one of the most prestigious honors in the nation for students seeking careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering.
Nelsen, from Stillwater, is an OSU Honors College junior in a triple degree program, which includes honors bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics, and a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. He is the 20th student from OSU to be awarded this highly-competitive national scholarship.
Nelsen has an extensive history of undergraduate research at OSU, including projects focusing on the fluid dynamics of blood flow in the heart and the mathematics of lung-like fractals. His mentors include Dr. Arvind Santhanakrishnan and Dr. Henry Segerman. Nelsen has shared his research at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics annual meeting in Portland, Ore., and the Gulf Coast Research Symposium at Rice University in Houston. He has won awards presenting at the 2017 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta, the 2017 Oklahoma/Arkansas Mathematical Association of America section meeting in Norman, and the EPSCoR Oklahoma Research Day at the State Capitol.
“A multitude of strong programs and excellent faculty here at OSU have allowed me to thrive as I explore my diverse set of research interests in both engineering and mathematics,” Nelsen said. “I am honored and humbled to represent OSU as the newest Goldwater Scholar.”
Nelsen’s career goal is to earn a doctorate in mechanical engineering or applied mathematics and pursue a research and development career at a national laboratory or major research institution within the field of theoretical and numerical fluid mechanics. He is a National Merit Scholar and the recipient of the Niblack Research Scholar award, Wentz Research Grant, and Kerr Research Fellowship. While on campus, Nelsen has been active in Pi Mu Epsilon, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Pi Tau Sigma, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
OSU students Alicia Aguilar, a junior from Edmond, and William “Colby” Starr, a junior from Tulsa, were awarded honorable mentions in the national Goldwater Scholarship competition. Aguilar is double majoring in chemical engineering and biochemistry. She plans to earn a medical doctorate and a doctorate of philosophy, and study specific signal pathways linked to autoimmune disease. Starr, who is double majoring in microbiology and molecular genetics, as well as biochemistry and molecular biology, is also minoring in religious studies. He plans to earn a doctorate and study antibiotic resistance mechanisms to further understand and eradicate bacterial infections.
A total of 240 Goldwater Scholars were selected this year, based on academic merit and the potential for a research career, from a field of 1,286 natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering students nominated by campus representatives from among 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide. The one- and two-year scholarships cover tuition, fees, books, room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, by providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Today, Goldwater alumni can be found conducting research that is helping defend the nation, find cures for catastrophic diseases, and teaching future generations of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.
By Jim Mitchell