Two WKU students have been honored by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, the premier award for undergraduates pursuing careers in science, mathematics or engineering.

Andrew Davis of Williamstown (pictured at left above) was named a Goldwater Scholar. He was one of only two students from Kentucky to receive a Goldwater scholarship this year. Ayush Prasad of Flatwoods (pictured at right above) received an Honorable Mention in the competition.

“We are very excited for Andrew and Ayush on their recognition,” said Dr. Kevin Williams, professor of Chemistry and WKU’s faculty representative for the Goldwater Scholarship Program. “We have had 11 consecutive years now with at least two students being recognized in this competition as a result of excellent effort by both the students and the faculty.”

Davis, the son of Amy and Todd Davis, is studying mathematics and physics and is a 2016 graduate of The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky. He plans to pursue a PhD in mathematics and conduct research in modeling using linear algebra, algebraic systems and topology, and teach at the university level.

Davis has conducted research with Dr. Bruce Kessler, professor of Mathematics and department head, since August 2014 and has published work with Dr. Kessler in The Mathematical Scientist.

“As Andrew’s research supervisor, I can only say how lucky I have been to get to work with him over the last three years,” Dr. Kessler said.  “I’ve gotten to see him grow as a student, as a researcher and as a person over that time, and I’m glad that he is getting this recognition.”

Prasad, the son of Yogendra Prasad and Aparna Singh, studies biology as a WKU sophomore and Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science student. His goal is to earn a PhD in computational biology as well as an MD and conduct clinical research utilizing mathematical modeling to develop treatments for cardiovascular diseases as a faculty member at a medical college.

Prasad has conducted research with Dr. Richard Schugart, associate professor of Mathematics, since fall 2015.

“Being recognized by the Goldwater Foundation is an incredible honor for Ayush,” Dr. Schugart said.  “His hard work and interest in learning beyond the classroom environment is why he received this recognition.  I am extremely happy for Ayush.”

Both students have conducted extensive research with faculty in the Department of Mathematics. Dr. Kessler noted, “I am overjoyed with the news that students conducting research with our department’s faculty have received both a Goldwater Scholarship and an Honorable Mention in the Goldwater competition, respectively.  We have quality faculty working with quality students, and this announcement serves to validate that statement.”

Established by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to recognize the former senator from Arizona, the Goldwater Scholarship program identifies and honors university sophomores and juniors who excel in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) research. To support future career researchers, winners receive $7,500 annually to apply toward undergraduate tuition, room and board, fees and books. This year 1,286 students from 470 institutions were nominated for a Goldwater scholarship. Each school can nominate just four students. Of those nominees, 240 were named Goldwater Scholars and 307 were identified as Honorable Mentions.

Since 2007, 34 WKU students have been recognized in the Goldwater Scholarship competition.

About the Office of Scholar Development: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping WKU students in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in nationally competitive scholarships. Contact: Dr. Audra Jennings, (270) 745-5043.

About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named to The Washington Post’s list of top-performing schools with elite students for eight consecutive years and was named the number one public high school in the United States by The Daily Beast for three consecutive years – 2012, 2013 and 2014. Contact: Zack Ryle, (270) 745-2971.

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