Two Rutgers Students Win Prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

Two Rutgers Students Win Prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

Biomedical engineering and physics majors perform research in liver transplantation, particle physics

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The research accomplishments and stellar academic records of two Rutgers students have earned them prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, awarded for excellence in mathematics, science and engineering.

Juniors David Kolchmeyer of East Brunswick, N.J., and Josh Yarmush of Newton, Mass., are among 271 undergraduates selected by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to receive awards this year. They were among more than 1,100 students nominated by their college and university faculties nationwide. The scholarships cover educational expenses up to $7,500 per year for each winner’s remaining one or two years of college.

According to the Goldwater Foundation, Goldwater Scholars often garner the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs, such as the Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill scholarships and awards.

Along with outstanding academic performance, the students include advanced research in their undergraduate experience. Kolchmeyer, a physics major in the School of Arts and Sciences, is searching for evidence of new subatomic particles generated in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland. Yarmush, a biomedical engineering major in the School of Engineering, is investigating ways to make more donor livers suitable for transplantation in people who suffer advanced liver disease.


David Kolchmeyer

David Kolchmeyer is looking for new subatomic particles that form as the result of protons colliding head-on as they fly near the speed of light around the Large Hadron Collider ring. These particles may give scientists insight into previously unknown properties of matter. This summer, he will join a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program administered by the University of Michigan to study at CERN.

“I was interested in science in high school, and read about discoveries on the frontiers of science in high-energy physics,” said Kolchmeyer. He knew he wanted to pursue undergraduate research at Rutgers, but thought opportunities would be rare and hard to find. He made a few inquiries in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and to his surprise, found an opportunity within the first three months of his freshman year working with Girsh Blumberg on laser spectroscopy. In his sophomore year, he began working in high-energy physics after meeting his current mentor, Amit Lath, who was teaching his quantum mechanics class.

Kolchmeyer works with the Institute for Domestic and International Affairs, an organization that creates model United Nations and model congress conferences for high school students.

He hopes to pursue graduate studies in high energy physics upon graduation.


Josh Yarmush

Josh Yarmush is attacking a critical health problem – trying to make more livers available to people who are awaiting transplants. The already scarce supply of donor organs is further reduced because more than a thousand potential organs are rejected each year for high fat content, which prevents them from surviving the transplantation process. His research, with Francois Berthiaume and Tim Maguire, investigates ways that these livers might be “defatted” in the short window of time between harvesting and transplanting. Yarmush works on mathematical models of liver cell reactions and is helping design a system that can perfuse a cocktail of fat-removing chemicals through liver tissue.

Yarmush was first exposed to research at Shriners Hospital in Boston during his summers in high school. “When I first went into a lab, I was amazed by the boundless capacity for innovation and discovery,” he said. “It wasn’t something I’d experienced before.” His name was included in a paper published by his mentors and colleagues, which further motivated him to pursue science in college.

Yarmush is president of the Rutgers chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, which he started with a group of friends and this semester received recognition from the university. He is active in the fraternity’s philanthropic organization, Push America, which serves people with disabilities.

He plans to pursue a doctorate in biomedical engineering upon graduation.


Barry Goldwater

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by public law in 1986. The scholarship program honoring the late U.S. Sen. Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. It is regarded as the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Rutgers students who are interested in applying for Goldwater scholarships should contact the Office of Distinguished Fellowships for further information and assistance.

Media Contact: Carl Blesch
732-932-7084, ext. 616