NU students clean up in scholarship competitions

Ilene Rosenblum

Northwestern students won 67 scholarships this year in fields ranging from vocal performance to geometry to developmental psychology.

Although NU didn’t reach last year’s record of 79 winners, Office of Fellowships Director Sara Vaux said students received several awards that no one from NU had ever won before.

The Office of Fellowships is sponsoring an event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. today at Hardin Hall to honor the winners.

Vaux said beyond just the winners, she was impressed with the quality of the entire applicant pool.

“Sometimes it’s just brutal to pick (nominees),” Vaux said. “They’re all qualified.”

But there also are plenty of winners to be proud of. Students won 25 different types of scholarships, Vaux said, including 15 National Science Foundation Scholarships — the most NU has brought home in a single year.

“My first reaction was disbelief,” said scholarship winner David Guarrera, a Weinberg senior. “A friend called to tell me I had won and for a while I wondered if she was telling the truth or not. After that, I was ecstatic.”

Guarrera, a mathematics and physics major, said he will spend next year at Cambridge University in England studying math to help him understand the advanced physics of string theory, which describes fundamental particles and forces in nature.

Winning the prestigious science scholarship also seemed unlikely to Weinberg senior Yi Ting Huang.

“When I applied I really didn’t think I had a chance compared to all the other undergrad and grad students in all the different fields,” Huang said. “I was also amazed that all the hard work had paid off.”

Huang, a Weinberg senior and double major in psychology and economics, is studying language acquisition and cognitive development in children.

“It’s kind of getting at ‘where do we begin in terms of speaking and thinking,'” she said.

In addition to the record number of National Science Foundation awards, NU had several notable firsts. Tamuz Shiran, Music ’02, was the first NU student to win the Frank Huntington Beebe Fellowship, an award for music study in Europe.

This year also is the first time a NU student won the Howard Hughes Fellowship, a five-year stipend and tuition grant toward earning a biology degree, and the first time since 1964 that an NU student won a Churchill Scholarship for math, science or engineering study at Churchill College in England. Weinberg senior Nathan Gouwens won both awards.

In addition to these notables, there were many other success stories this year. NU students earned one Marshall Scholarship for study in England, six Fulbright Scholarships for study abroad and three Goldwater Scholarships, for study in mathematics, science and engineering.

Weinberg sophomore Wenhao Liu said he was surprised when he discovered he won the Goldwater Scholarship. Liu, a chemistry and integrated science major, has been using nanotechnology with chemistry Prof. Michael Wasielewski to make switches with molecules. Scientists keep creating smaller circuits but will reach a limit using traditional methods, Liu said.