Established as a way to recognize the nation’s most talented students, the Goldwater Scholarship is one of the top academic honors a college student can hope to receive. Recognized for his impressive academic and research credentials, Lobo undergrad Eric Putney can now count himself as one of the elite scholarship recipients.
Founded in recognition of U.S. Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the Goldwater Scholarship provides financial support for students who are planning to pursue a Ph.D. and a career in STEM research. According to the Foundation, the Goldwater Scholars were selected based on academic merit from a field of over 5,000 college juniors and seniors; 1,223 natural sciences, mathematics and engineering students were nominated by 443 academic institutions.
Putney, the only student in New Mexico to receive the honor, is an Honors College student at The University of New Mexico majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics.
“It's exciting to see how my work is building the foundation for a career in physics research,” he said. “It's very rewarding to learn new skills and to really dig deep into a problem—becoming a Goldwater Scholar is a tangible reminder of that wonder and the progress I've made in this journey. I'm very grateful to the people that got me here, and to the people in my life supporting me in my professional development.”
Putney is currently serving as the president of UNM’s Society of Physics Students. He has engaged in various research projects with Huaiyu Duan (Physics), David Dunlap (Physics), Paul Schwoebel (Physics), and Jason Moore (Honors College).
“Despite never having carried out paleontology research before, and working in a mostly unrelated discipline, Eric excelled. He transferred his collaboration, critical thinking and analytical skills from one discipline to another and managed to develop some novel and interesting insight into the history of life on Earth,” said Honors Professor Jason Moore. “The skills, probing mind, and hard-working attitude that Eric showed in my class demonstrates that he has great potential as a scholar.”
Honors Dean Gregory Lanier also added, “The Honors College is very proud of Eric, our 2019 Goldwater Scholarship Awardee. To date, he has achieved an extremely impressive GPA of 4.14 as a physics major and Honors College student. We all wish Eric well as he pursues his Ph.D.—he epitomizes the great level of success and achievement common to all Honors College students.”
Last summer, Putney participated in the summer research program at Purdue University and this summer, he will be working at CERN, The European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, Switzerland.
“CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider, where I will have another opportunity to experimentally probe fundamental physics,” said Putney. “I think that these experiences all contribute to developing a strong background in particle physics, which will be beneficial to my graduate studies and beyond.”
Putney hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in particle physics and to research antimatter with a global research organization.