Math-Computing Double-Major Wins Coveted Goldwater


Gautam Goel, a Math-Computing double-major, is the only Georgia Tech student this year to win the coveted Goldwater Scholarship.

April 10, 2013

Gautam Goel is a yellow jacket through and through. He began Tech as a camper in middle school and now wants to pursue a doctorate in mathematics. A double-major in applied mathematics and computer science in the Colleges of Sciences and Computing respectively, his interests include probabilistic models of mathematical physics and the theory of algorithms.

“Mathematics is, among other things, the perfect tool to understand a variety of real-world phenomena,” said Goel. “I hope to apply my mathematical perspective to problems originating in computer science, physics, economics and biology. The most exciting thing that can happen is the development of rigorous theories with both a rich mathematical structure and useful application in fields other than mathematics.”

 Goel, a sophomore, conducts undergraduate research with faculty members Yuri Bakhtin in the School of Mathematics and Loren Williams in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. With Williams he’s developing efficient algorithms to align the structures of molecules in three-dimensional space. These algorithms produce much faster results for the scientists than the ones previously used and allow them to compare structures that couldn’t be compared before. In one of his projects with Bakhtin, he’s exploring a mathematical model of human decision-making. 

 This year Goldwater scholarships were awarded to 271 sophomores and juniors from the United States. The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

 Goldwater scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit and hail from a field of 1,107 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred seventy-six of the scholars are men, 95 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Twenty-seven scholars are mathematics majors, 159 are science and related majors, 71 are majoring in engineering and 14 are computer science majors. Many of the scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.