Three UMass Amherst Juniors Awarded Prestigious Goldwater Scholarships

Nicholas Sbalbi
Nicholas Sbalbi
Meredith Stone
Meredith Stone
Renos Zabounidis
Renos Zabounidis

AMHERST, Mass. – Three University of Massachusetts Amherst juniors in the Commonwealth Honors College have been awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation.

Nicholas Sbalbi of West Springfield, Mass.; Meredith Stone of Wakefield, R.I.; and Renos Zabounidis of Sharon, Mass., will receive scholarships to cover tuition, mandatory fees, books and room and board.

The three UMass students were among 410 students from across the nation to receive Goldwater Scholarships out of nearly 1,256 nominations. The students were assisted by Madalina Akli in the Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA) with their applications. ONSA is an advising service available to all UMass Amherst undergraduate and graduate students, as well as the university’s alumni community.

“These students represent UMass Amherst in the highest national circle of excellence in terms of scientific research,” Akli said. “They have been recognized with other internal awards, presented at conferences, and some have even published in professional journals.”

Sbalbi, a chemical engineering major, is planning to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science or chemical engineering. His future pursuit is to conduct research involving the manipulation of microscale structure to tune macroscale material properties. His mentors at UMass are Laura Bradley, assistant professor, polymer science and engineering; Peter Beltramo, professor, chemical engineering; and Sarah Perry, associate professor, chemical engineering.

An astronomy and physics double major, Stone plans to teach and be involved in science outreach and conduct astronomy research at the university level. Stone lists Alexandra Pope, associate professor, astronomy; and Jed McKinney, a graduate student in astronomy, as her mentors.

Zabounidis is pursuing degrees in mathematics, computer science and an individual concentration. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in cognitive machine learning and conduct research in the intersections between statistics, machine learning and cognitive science. He lists Hava Siegelmann, professor, information and computer science; Madalina Fiterau Brostean, assistant professor, information and computer science; and Katia Sycara, research professor in robotics at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, as his mentors.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate. By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, the Goldwater Foundation is helping ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly qualified professionals the nation needs in these critical fields.