William & Mary

Ashwin Rastogi '08 Wins Jefferson Prize

Ashwin Rastogi, '08 Ashwin has excelled in every intellectual endeavor at the College, from advanced chemistry research in his first semester as a freshman to macro- and microeconomics to every course he could take in physics and mathematics.

This should not, perhaps, surprise, since he arrived at the College with an impressive 45 hours of Advanced Placement and college credits in hand. His grade point average is a straightforward 4.0--but, as the chair of the Physics Department said of him, "These are no ordinary As--they are A pluses in disguise."

Another of his professors reports that when he would give his students additional mathematics problems to solve for extra credit, Ashwin would continue to turn in solutions far past the point of earning credit, completing them for the sheer joy of doing demanding mathematics.

The College's Dean of Arts & Sciences asks every science department chair to name their best students for consideration for the Thomas Jefferson Prize. This year, two department chairs named one student: Ashwin Rastogi. He is considered by his professors the best student in the two departments in which he majors, mathematics and physics. And he has, astonishingly, nearly enough credits to earn a major in chemistry as well. Indeed, though he intends to go on to graduate study in physics, he has already had three articles accepted for publication in scientific journals--all of them in mathematics and chemistry.

The breadth of his interest and talent and accomplishment is, truly, breathtaking. It is almost as impressive as the fact that he recently achieved the highest possible score on the physics GRE. The magnitude of his attainments has already been widely acknowledged, both among his professors, who awarded him the E.G. Clark Memorial Scholarship, and by the federal government, which awarded him a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship last spring.

But he may take the most pride in knowing that his professors consider him "delightful, mature, polite, honest, articulate, and genuinely in love with understanding the physical and mathematical universe.

Past Winners of the Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy:
2007 Kendra L. Letchworth
2006 Paul A. Smith
2005 Megan E. Dellinger
2004 Vijay R. Dondeti
2003 James F. Cahoon
2002 Hanley S. Chiang
2001 Kenneth J. Davis
2000 Ian J. Swanson
1999 Tesla E. Jeltema
1998 Jennifer M. Johnson