Jake Bennett Named Goldwater Scholar

SALEM, VA- Jake Bennett, a Roanoke College junior from Lexington, Va., has been named a 2007 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. Bennett was one of 317 Goldwater Scholars who were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,110 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

Bennett plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics from a research university with an ultimate goal of a career focused on research in physics. Bennett is Roanoke's second Goldwater Scholar. Jessica Simmers '06 was the college's first Goldwater Scholar in 2004.

"My heartfelt congratulations to Jake Bennett and his faculty advisor, Dr. Balasubramanian," Dr. Sabine O'Hara, president of Roanoke College, said. "It makes me enormously proud to have a Roanoke student selected for this prestigious scholarship."

Bennett is a double major in physics and mathematics. Last year, he was honored as the first sophomore to receive the Rossings Physics Scholarship, where he was one of three college students in the nation selected by a committee affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to receive that $10,000 scholarship. He also has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education with the Byrd Scholarship, and he is a member of several honor societies. The Goldwater Scholars receive educational funding of up to $7,500 per year.

"Jake was clearly a strong candidate and I am delighted that his outstanding work and potential in math and physics have been recognized with this award," Dr. Adrienne Bloss, assistant dean for curricular and faculty development, said.

Bennett has sought research opportunities since he was a high school student. He is currently working on a research project to analyze Mossbauer data gathered from NASA's Opportunity and Spirit rovers on the Martian surface. Mossbauer spectroscopy is used on Mars to analyze iron oxides from the planet's surface in hopes of finding evidence of the existence of water.

In 2005, he studied with Dr. Roland Minton, professor of mathematics, on a summer scholar's project titled "The Mathematics of a Tennis Serve." The research was presented at Roanoke College and at a Mathematical Association of America conference and the James Madison University SUMS conference. In 2006, he worked with Dr. Rama Balasubramanian on "Growth and characterization of carbon nanotubes." This research was presented at the 2006 Marcus conference and Bennett will present it at the 2007 Virginia Academy of Sciences conference.

"Jake's research work on carbon nanotubes has important results that directly address the key elements in the growth kinetics of the nanotubes," Dr. Rama Balasubramanian, assistant professor of physics, said. "This is significant because now we have a new way to synthesize long, uniform and extremely thin nanotubes of diameters less than one nanometer that can be used for a variety of applications in nano-electronics."

This summer, Bennett will participate in Cornell University's Research Experience for Undergraduates program in Cornell's Laboratory for Elementary-Particle Physics. Up to 10 students are invited to participate in research in this prestigious program each year.

Bennett is the president of Younglife leadership training at Roanoke College. He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, an honorary leadership organization. He is an officer of the college's Alpha Chi and Pi Mu Epsilon chapters. He also is involved in the College's new astronomy club.

Bennett is a graduate of Rockbridge County High School in Lexington. He is married to Laura Ann Bennett, an English major at Roanoke, and he is the son of Scott and Lynn Bennett.

The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have later been awarded 69 Rhodes Scholarships and 86 Marshall Awards.

Now in its 19th year, the Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency and has awarded 5,202 scholarships worth approximately $51 million dollars.

For additional information, contact the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282 or e-mail gereaux@roanoke.edu.