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Two W&M juniors awarded Goldwater Scholarship

  • Goldwater Scholars:
    Goldwater Scholars:  Juniors Grace Solini (left) and Hana Warner (right) are the recipients of the 2019 Goldwater Scholarship Awards.  Charles Center photo
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William & Mary’s legacy of success with the Goldwater Scholarship Program continues in 2019 as two students have been named to the exclusive list of undergraduate scholars.

Hana Warner ’20 and Grace Solini ‘20 are among just 496 undergraduate students nationwide to be named Goldwater Scholars in 2019. They were chosen from a pool of more than 5,000 applicants and 1,200 nominees from 443 academic institutions.

The prestigious award, established by Congress to honor the work of the late Senator Barry Goldwater, is given to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Goldwater Scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Universities are allowed to nominate up to four students for the award each year. Since the award’s inception in 1989, William & Mary has had at least one Goldwater Scholar each year except 2011.

Warner, a junior from Ashburn, Virginia, is double-majoring in physics and mathematics. She said she is working on two different research projects on campus: studying four-wave mixing for applications in quantum imaging and communication in the Quantum Optics Group, and measuring cosmic rays in the Small Satellite Project.

“I've known Hana for three years, and she is one of the most delightful people to work with,” said Warner’s advisor, Professor Irina Novikova. “I think she perfectly embodies the spirit of William & Mary: She is passionate about everything she does, and she does a lot. She is a very strong, skilled and independent researcher, working effectively at a graduate student level. She plays a vital role in the life of the physics department and campus in general. It is a real pleasure to work with her, as she takes each new task as an exciting challenge, and works out effective ways to attack any problem. I see her as one of the future leaders in the science community.”

Warner said she plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career researching quantum optics and atomic, molecular and optical physics after she graduates from W&M.

Solini is majoring in CAMS (Computational and Applied Math and Statistics), and her research has spanned synthetic and developmental biology. According to her advisor, Chancellor Professor of Biology Margaret Saha, Solini is attempting to understand the molecular mechanisms through which cells respond to and recover from damage and genetic perturbations. Her work will have implications in the field of regenerative medicine.

Solini, a native of Sterling, Virginia, said she plans to obtain a Ph.D. in the field of systems biology with the goal of becoming a professor.

“Grace is a phenomenal student and research scientist,” Saha said. “She is highly multidisciplinary, completely comfortable with everything from coding and math modeling to wet lab molecular genetics and advanced sequence analysis. She is an absolute delight to have in the lab, helpful, engaging and always pushing the boundaries of what we do. I look forward to following her discoveries well into the future."

Before students could apply for the Goldwater Scholarship, they contended with a competitive pool of W&M peers for endorsement, according to Lindsey Love, director of national scholarships.

“Our four nominees had especially strong academic credentials and research experience,” Love said. “Having two winners is a wonderful testament to these students’ hard work and dedication to research.”

Students who would like to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship Program in 2020 should contact their departmental representatives and Love early in the fall semester to begin the application process.