Park Scholar Receives Goldwater Award

Mary Williard (2007) has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship for 2005.

The Goldwater Scholarship was developed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Mary is one of 320 recipients of the honor this year and one of two from NC State. Since the program’s inception in 1986, 26 NC State students have received the award, six of whom have been Park Scholars.

A physics major, Mary works in the laboratory of Dr. Keith Weninger. She began in January of 2004 after her faculty mentor recommended the assistant professor of physics as a possible match. Currently, she’s studying the Sindbis virus, which can be used to model mosquite-borne viruses and hopefully help understand how viruses affect human cells.

Mary was presenting the results of this research at the meeting of the American Physical Society in Los Angeles when the Goldwater announcement was published online. Dr. Weninger e-mailed her the good news.

After graduation, Mary plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biophysics before working at a research-intensive institution and teaching students in a way that encourages them to be enthusiastic and independent thinkers.

The Goldwater is based on academic merit and can cover expenses up to $7,500 per year. As a Park, Mary is ineligible to receive the funds; however, she considers the honor good practice for future applications and credits it with helping her focus her future goals in research.