Four promising Yale student scientists named Goldwater Scholars

The scholarships named for a former U.S. senator encourage research careers in STEM.
Harper Lowrey, Julian Rubinfien, Madelyn Stewart, and Samuel Weissman

Harper Lowrey, Julian Rubinfien, Madelyn Stewart, and Samuel Weissman

Four students from Yale College’s Class of 2024  — Harper Lowrey, Julian Rubinfien, Madelyn Stewart, and Samuel Weissman — are among the 413 U.S. college students awarded Goldwater Scholarships for the 2023-2024 academic year. The scholarships, named for the late U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, encourage students to pursue research careers in the fields of natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

The Goldwater Scholarships, which are among the most eminent undergraduate awards in these fields, are supported by the Goldwater Foundation and by an ongoing partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense National Defense Education Program (NDEP).

The Yale awardees were selected from a pool of over 5,000 college sophomores and juniors who were nominated by 427 academic institutions. Virtually all of the recipients say they intend to obtain a Ph.D., and many of have already published research in leading professional journals and presented their work at professional society conferences.

Harper Lowrey, of Berkeley College, is studying molecular, cellular, and development biology (MCDB) and will also graduate with certificates in French and education studies. She researches plant circadian clocks in the model Aradidopsis thaliana in the laboratory of Joshua Gendron, associate professor of MCDB. She is a peer tutor for the introductory biology sequence and for MCDB, and plays on both the club soccer and basketball teams. In addition to her Yale research, Lowrey has conducted research at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and will work at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York this summer. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in plant biology.

Julian Rubinfien, of Jonathan Edwards College, is a first-semester senior majoring in physics and mathematics. A Hahn Scholar at Yale (the scholarship supports students with strong science and engineering research backgrounds), he conducts research with Yale physics professor Ben Machta at the intersection of statistical physics and theoretical neuroscience. He previously worked at NASA, designing and preparing experiments on the International Space Station, and spent last summer conducting research at Harvard University with Professor Cengiz Pehlevan. After graduation, he will enter the physics Ph.D. program at Harvard.

Madelyn Stewart, of Silliman College, is majoring in both mathematics and Earth and planetary sciences. She conducts research with Professor Christopher Horvat at Brown University and the University of Auckland. In past research she has focused on producing evidence for a sea ice concentration product utilizing laser altimeter ICESat-2. This summer she will focus on the effects of climate change on Pacific island countries. She has also conducted research on box-ball systems with Emily Gunawan of the University of Oklahoma. Stewart serves on the Math Climate Committee, the board of Dimensions (Women and Gender Minorities in Mathematics), and as an undergraduate learning assistant for the math department.

Samuel Weissman, of Trumbull College, is majoring in statistics and data science. His research interests include the impact of HIV on T cell division, death, and differentiation, as well as RNA sequencing, in vitro models of HIV infection, and ecological models of cell turnover. Before coming to Yale he won second place in the 2019 Regeneron Science Talent Search, which recognizes and empowers promising young scientists who are developing ideas that could solve society’s most urgent challenges. He also conducted research in the laboratory of University of Pennsylvania researcher Una O’Doherty, who conducted the first longitudinal analysis of full HIV genomes to track their changes in people being treated for HIV. He was a first author on a 2019 paper in the journal Nature Communications about research conducted in O’Doherty’s lab. During his Hahn Fellowship at Yale, he has worked in the laboratory of Ya-Chi Ho, an infectious disease researcher and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine. There, his latest research is aimed at dissecting the two-way interactions between HIV and the cells it infects, work he will continue this summer. A saxophonist, he enjoys performing jazz and is a new member educator for Yale’s Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi. He is interested in a career as a physician-scientist, possibly in infectious diseases.

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