Physics major becomes 22nd Rutgers student to earn prestigious Goldwater Scholarship
In the 10 years since the Office of Distinguished Fellowships was established, 21 recipients of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation have originated from Rutgers University. This list has now expanded to include School of Arts and Sciences junior Viktor Krapivin.
According to the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation website, “By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, the Goldwater Foundation is helping ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly-qualified professionals the nation needs in these critical fields.”
Krapivin said he has always been curious about things involving physics and how the world worked. He said he used to ask his father questions, but eventually, he started exploring on his own. His father bought him a book on quantum mechanics when he was in sixth grade.
Krapivin said he took several physics courses in high school and when he came to Rutgers, he knew he wanted to study physics. Krapivin is also majoring in mathematics.
“I’ve been in a research lab here at Rutgers since the end of my freshman year and it’s something I really enjoy doing. It’s something that is very interesting to me,” Krapivin said.
His research lab is in a field called material science or condensed matter physics. He said that a lot of the research is not highly applicable to everyday life, although these ideas that are discovered may eventually apply to everyday life.
One hundred years ago, people could have never imagined computers being used today, he said.
Krapivin said the scholarship reinforced his resolve to have a career in physics after he leaves Rutgers. He hopes to earn a Ph.D. in physics and potentially become a professor.
“The quality of education here is pretty good. Without the support of Rutgers and without the help of professors and faculty here, I don’t think I could have ever achieved this. This really shows that the Rutgers institution is excellent, especially the physics department,” Krapivin said.
He said both of his parents were very smart and instilled a culture of wanting to learn and understand the world more.
The best advice he said he could offer to science majors at Rutgers is to never give up.
“There’s a lot of cool things you can do here at Rutgers if you’re interested in science. If you want to try research, reach out to professors. It’s a very interesting experience. Get involved in our Rutgers community. Make Rutgers proud," he said.
Arthur D. Casciato, director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships, said that sophomores and juniors are allowed to apply and the ones that are named Goldwater scholars may receive up to $7,500 for tuition fees.
“Beyond the financial award, Goldwater is a very significant benchmark going forward in the life of a young scientist, mathematician, or engineer. And only the best students in science, engineering and math are awarded Goldwaters,” Casciato said.
The Goldwater Scholarship has the highest grade point average of any other fellowship in the country, even more than the Rhodes Scholarship, Casciato said.
He added that this scholarship is for scientists, mathematicians and engineers who have a demonstrable record of research.
“Viktor was a clear standout in our nomination process, because of four factors. One, his sterling 4.0 GPA and his double major in physics and math. Two, his record of research on the bench, especially the kind he spent last summer working at Stanford’s National Accelerator Laboratory. The third thing would be a set of extraordinarily glowing recommendations written by senior and distinguished researchers both at Rutgers and beyond. And finally, his two publications,” Casciato said.
Casciato said he works with a committee to make decisions for who to choose as nominees for the Goldwater Scholarship. Afterward, he works to polish the applications of the nominees.
“It’s really quite an achievement. We’ve gone from a solid record of winning Goldwaters to one that’s one of the top producers of Goldwaters in the country. In general, it speaks very well of Rutgers’s education,” Casciato said.
Samil Tabani is a Rutgers Business School first-year student. He is a staff writer for The Daily Targum.