Alexander Frenett ’18, and Professors David Hall, Will Loinaz, and David Hanneke
Alexander Frenett ’18, with Professors David Hall, Will Loinaz and David Hanneke who recommended him for the fellowship. Photo by Maria Stenzel.

Amherst’s newest Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, Alexander Frenett ’18, is a double major in physics and mathematics, interested in the subfields of high-energy/particle physics and nuclear fusion. Long term, he hopes to either become a professor of physics or to work for an agency such as the U.S. Department of Energy.

“If I were to choose the high-energy field, I would love to focus on pursuing evidence of non-standard model particles. Such a discovery would be pushing the very frontier of physics, and seems quite possible in the coming decades,” he wrote in his Goldwater application. “The horizon seems no less bright for the nuclear subfield. At a time of worldwide consensus on the need for safe, renewable energy, fusion research could make a lasting impact on the global energy grid.”

He has participated in a number of research projects with Amherst professors, including building an extended-cavity diode laser, used to control individual trapped atoms.

“He is good at everything we do in the research lab,” said David Hanneke, assistant professor of physics and one of Frenett’s mentors. “In both a design program and the machine shop, the thing that stands out is Alec’s ability to pick up on all the things.”

Hanneke, along with physics professors Will Loinaz and David Hall, recommended him for the fellowship.

“We may be reaching a ‘golden age’ of physics education,” Frenett wrote, in which new teaching models “open opportunities in the field to a larger and more diverse range of students. I wish to be part of that change.”

A captain of the Amherst soccer team, he is also active in the Amherst Political Union. He works as a teaching assistant for the physics department and won that department’s Bassett Physics Prize.

The Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation awarded 240 scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1986. Awards are made on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,166 mathematics, science, and engineering students nominated by their professors. The scholarship covers expenses for tuition, fees, books and room and board up to $7,500 annually.

Dakota Foster ’18 and President Biddy Martin
Dakota Foster ’18, pictured here with President Biddy Martin. Photo by Christine Overstreet.

Dakota Foster ’18, of Brunswick, Maine, is among 62 new Harry S. Truman scholars, most of whom hail from large universities. There was a near-record number of applications this year, with 768 nominations. These came from 315 colleges and universities, the most in the program’s history.

Foster is a double major in political science and Asian languages and civilizations, and is passionate about foreign and defense policy. She has a special interest in counterterrorism and the Middle East. At Amherst she was the only first-year student hired to join Amherst’s Multicultural Resource Center as a peer diversity educator, where she helped implement campus-wide programs.

She serves on the executive board of the Amherst Political Union and as a student member of the College’s Discipline Committee, in addition to working as a research assistant, leading college tours and playing varsity lacrosse. Foster plans to pursue either a Ph.D. or a joint degree in security studies and law before continuing to work on issues of national security, possibly with the U.S. State Department or Department of Defense. She can see herself working for the National Security Council and perhaps one day serving as national security adviser.

She has interned with the House Foreign Affairs Committee, focusing on national security and the Middle East. She helped write questions for hearings on global human rights and combating virtual terrorism, conducted background research for bills on the crisis in Syria, and wrote a country-by-country summary of the State Department’s 2015 Counterterrorism Report. She has also interned for Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The U.S. Congress established the Truman Scholarship Foundation in 1975 to support college students applying to graduate school in preparation for careers in government or other forms of public service. Each Truman scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study, as well as leadership training and career counseling. The foundation also offers internship opportunities within the federal government.