Submitted on Monday, 3/22/2021, at 11:29 AM

May 24, 2013

Two Amherst juniors have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships on behalf of scientific and academic achievement, and eight recent graduates have been offered Fulbright Fellowships to teach and study abroad.

The Goldwater Scholarship, established in 1986 by Congress on behalf of Senator Barry M. Goldwater, is one of the most premier awards in its category. It honors university students nationwide who have distinguished themselves in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering. The scholarship covers tuition, fees, books and board for up to $7,500 per academic year. Four nominations are allowed from Amherst each year, and only 271 awards were granted nationwide for the 2013-14 academic year. “We had an impressive group of applicants this year,” said Denise Gagnon, Amherst’s director of fellowship advising. “Of the four candidates, two were selected as scholars and two applicants, Charles Reighard ’14 and Jacob Witten ’14, received honorable mentions.” The 2013 scholars are Christopher Gerry ’14 and Christopher Finch ’14, and what follows is a quick look at each student.

Christopher Gerry ’14, of Roslyn Heights, N.Y., is a chemistry major with a heavy research background in bio-organic synthesis. He aspires to earn a PhD in organic chemistry and to eventually teach and conduct research at a university.


Christopher Finch ’14, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., is a biochemistry major interested in the research side of sports medicine. He expects to earn a PhD in bioengineering and to work in industry to address brain injuries and neurodegenerative disease caused by concussions in contact sports.

The Fulbright Fellowship, founded in 1946 by the staunchly multilateralist Senator J. Williams Fulbright, is one of the most prestigious awards in the world, claiming among its alumni 43 Nobel Laureates and 78 Pulitzer Prize winners. The American grants it awards, according to its website, allow promising college graduates the opportunity to teach or conduct research in more than 100 countries. Suzanne Spencer, Amherst’s fellowships coordinator, wrote that “out of 19 Amherst College Fulbright finalists this year, [eight] have been offered research grants or teaching assistantships, four have been named alternates and may yet receive offers, and [one is] still waiting to hear from [the host country].” The 2013 Amherst Fulbright recipients include the following:

Ioanida Costache ’12 graduated last year as a music major, and is currently working as a graduate associate in the Amherst College music department. She has been offered a grant to Romania to research lăutari music, a Romanian/Romani musical tradition she hopes to continue studying and performing after her year abroad.

Bess Hanish ’13
is graduating with dual degrees in political science and anthropology. Hanish, who has a deep interest in women’s rights issues in the Arab world, was offered a grant to study Arabic in Cairo.


Jasmine Hardy ’13, an English/psychology double major with an enthusiasm for Caribbean and African literature, was offered an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Vietnam. Hardy wants to someday teach at the university level and she chose Vietnam because of its historical emphasis on education, and because it will allow her to share her love of literature and learning in such a new and unfamiliar context. 

Mark Hellmer ’13, has completed coursework to graduate a geology major and studied Russian language since his first semester as a transfer to Amherst. He has been offered an ETA to teach English at a technical institute in Siberia. Hellmer hopes to be able to conduct fieldwork in Russia for his future PhD dissertation.

Aubrey Jones ’13 has been offered a French Government Teaching Assistantship. Jones, who concentrated on French and history, is a Schupf Scholar with a passion for education. She is a Francophile and hopes to create a career out of teaching French language, literature and culture.

Timothy Poterba ’13, a biochemistry and biophysics major, was presented with a research grant to work at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry near Munich, Germany. He plans on pursuing a doctorate in biochemistry with a concentration on aging and expects this research opportunity to further his career goals.

Jenna Troop ’13, graduating as a European Studies/German major, was offered an ETA in Germany. Her ambition is to build a career where her work extends transnationally and expects the cultural and language emersion that is sure to result from the assistantship to help her with this aim.

Eirene Wang ’13, a Black studies major, has been offered an ETA to Russia. Wang seeks to both improve her own mastery over the Russian language and culture and to promote “cross-cultural discourse” in her future classroom. She is interested in international development and plans to eventually pursue a Master’s degree in international affairs.