Will Schwarzer ’20 and Sarah Finstuen-Magro ’20 receive prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

17 May 2019

Will Schwarzer ’20 and Sarah Finstuen-Magro ’20 have been awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for outstanding academic achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The scholarship was founded in 1986 in memory of Senator Barry Goldwater and awards up to $75,000 a year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors across the nation. Both Schwarzer and Finstuen-Magro will use the money to pay for their senior year of Carleton.

The two are among 496 scholarship recipients from an application pool of over 5,000 nationwide.

The centerpiece of the scholarship application is a three-page research paper on the applicant’s field of study—computer science for Schwarzer and chemistry for Finstuen-Magro.Will Schwarzer '20

Schwarzer wrote his paper on work he conducted last summer at Carleton with visiting assistant professor Jed Yang, who is now teaching at Bethel University. They explored “constructing computer assisted proof systems for tiling,” trying to write a computer program that will algorithmically place shapes to fill a given region without overlapping.

Sarah Finstuen-Magro '20Finstuen-Magro wrote her paper on research she conducted through an internship last summer at the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Disease studying the growth of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus. Through the internship, Finstuen-Magro discovered that while she is interested in human disease, she would prefer to study cell and immunotherapies for cancer rather than virology. This summer, therefore, Finstuen-Magro will be working at the Mayo Clinic studying ovarian cancer.

Several mentors were influential for Finstuen-Magro in the application process, including her summer mentor Kylene Kehn-Hall of the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Disease and Marynel Ryan Van Zee, Carleton’s director of student fellowships and lecturer in history.

Carleton biology professor Stephan Zweifel was also very supportive.

“I’ve learned a lot of technical skills but also just a lot about the process, and he’s pushed me to do great things,” Finstuen-Magro said. “I love working with him.”

Both Schwarzer and Finstuen-Magro plan to pursue PhDs in their fields.

Upon reflection, Schwarzer is most excited to have “the most prestigious STEM scholarship in the country” on his résumé, but also expressed his gratitude for the process itself.

“It was also a very positive experience just applying for the scholarship because it required me to answer a lot of deep questions about what I want to do and basically who I am that I hadn’t necessarily had to answer before,” Schwarzer said.

Finstuen-Magro demonstrated similar appreciation for the application process, saying, “It’s a good opportunity to reflect a little bit and think about really being able to state what you care about and what you want to do.”

“I feel really honored that I was selected and I think that it’s just exciting to me that somebody sees promise in my potential to contribute to the field because that’s what I want to do,” Finstuen-Magro said. “I think science is fascinating, and I like being recognized for being interested in science. I want to help people and change people’s lives so I just think it’s really nice to have been selected as somebody who might have the potential to do that in the future.”

Learn more about the Goldwater Scholarship.