Wisser honored with Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship award

April 14, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jacob Wisser, a junior majoring in physics in Eberly College of Science’s Integrated Graduate Program, was awarded the 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

The scholarship, established by Congress in 1986 to honor former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, is a distinguished undergraduate scholarship initiative that was created to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering and to foster excellence in those fields. This highly prestigious and competitive award is granted to up to 300 students nationwide and is based on the student's field of study, career objectives and the extent to which that individual has the commitment and potential to make a significant contribution to his or her field. For the current academic year, 282 scholarships were awarded nationally.

Wisser, of Phoenixville, is an undergraduate researcher in Nitin Samarth’s lab, where he studies molecular beam epitaxial growth of thin films. His studies there include thermoelectric effects and efficient ways to transfer heat into electrical energy. Wisser, who is on pace to earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree in four years from Penn State, plans to continue his education in condensed matter physics or materials science and to perform research in an industrial or academic setting.

A nominator was impressed with Wisser’s “success with style,” noting he’s just one of two physics majors to maintain a perfect 4.0 GPA through his sophomore year. Additionally, the nominator said, Wisser co-authored a publication last year and contributed on a multimillion-dollar research project soon after.

Wisser’s research in Penn State’s Materials Characterization Lab on condensed matter physics for the corporation Pittsburgh Paint and Glass (PPG Industries) earned him a PPG Undergraduate Research Fellow distinction.

Another nominator, noting Wisser’s ability to complete the Integrated Graduate Program in four years and his swift progress in research, said he stands out among his four most gifted students in his 22 years of teaching.

“It’s clear (Wisser) is an outstanding student with a very bright future as a scientist,” said the nominator.

“As one of the top research universities in the world, Penn State has a strong commitment to nurturing undergraduate participation,” said a nominator. “(Wisser) won the Goldwater Scholarship due to his significant academic accomplishments. He’s yet another example of our scholars not only achieving their individuals disciplines, but earning honors and recognition from prestigious organizations worldwide.”

Last Updated April 29, 2016