Gregory Ottino, a sophomore majoring in physics and mathematics at the University of New Mexico has been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship, the leading national scholarship for undergraduate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students.

The scholarship program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry Goldwater.

Ottino plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, with a concentration in high energy nuclear physics. Ultimately, he hopes to become a professor at the university level. He started his research career as a freshman with Douglas Fields, performing computations of particle physics data and developing more efficient photocathodes for Ring Imaging Cherenkov detectors.

“Gregory has not only excelled in his coursework, but only after nine months of undergraduate research, has become a valued member of my group,” Fields said. “He and another student worked on a test for a new detector system for the planned Electron-Ion Collider, and over this past spring break, he travelled to Brookhaven National Lab to help take data on the PHENIX experiment at the Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider. Shortly after his return to UNM, he has already begun the process of analyzing an important data set.”

"I am honored to be given this award and I hope that it marks the beginning of a long research career,” Ottino said. “I would like to thank Doug Fields and Amaresh Datta for helping me get started and teaching me so much, and Kiyoko Simmons for all of her help in the application process."

In the summer of 2012, Ottino took a service trip to the Dominican Republic, building a community park and giving after school classes to children. With his experiences and leadership skills, he received the Top Volunteer award from Amigos de las Americas. He is currently serving as a trainer for volunteers who are traveling to Latin America to complete service learning projects. He is a math tutor for adult immigrant students who are preparing for the GED.

The purpose of the Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. The scholarship covers academic expenses up to $7,500 during for the remaining year(s) of undergraduate study. Ottino will receive up to $15,000 ($7,500/year).