Auburn junior named Barry M. Goldwater Scholar
April 9, 2013
Patrick Donnan, an Auburn
University Honors College student double-majoring in physics and music, has
been chosen as a 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, an honor bestowed only to
approximately 300 students nationwide each year. The scholarship is widely
considered the most prestigious award in the United States for undergraduates
in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
Donnan, an Auburn native,
conducts research with Professor Francis Robicheaux as part of the theoretical
and computational atomic physics group in the College of Sciences and
Mathematics’ Department of Physics.
“I am truly honored to
have been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship,” Donnan said. “I have been working
toward the Goldwater since I learned about it freshman year, and it’s a wonderful
feeling to have accomplished that goal.”
Donnan’s research involves
studying processes in atoms by using advanced computational methods.
Specifically, his work examines Rydberg atoms, which appear in virtually every
subfield of atomic physics and have widespread interest in the atomic physics
research community. He has co-authored four peer-reviewed publications,
including articles in the Auburn University Journal of Undergraduate Research
and in Nature: The International Weekly Journal of Science, among others.
In May he will travel to
Leipzig, Germany, to study at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics. Upon
graduation from Auburn, he aims to complete a doctorate in theoretical atomic
physics and ultimately become a physics professor.
“Patrick is very
enthusiastic about physics,” Robicheaux said. “He is very easy to work with and
he has a good temperament for research. Setbacks don’t trouble him and if
something gives problems, he works at it until the problems are fixed. His
motivation and drive are incredibly high and he has the training and talents of
a top scientist.”
Donnan, who has a 3.98
grade point average, is president of the Auburn chapter of the Society for
Physics Students and a member of the Undergraduate Research Board. In addition,
he is principal chair with the bassoon in the Auburn University Symphonic Band
and a member of the Auburn Community Orchestra.
Auburn Honors College
student Tyler Sutherland received honorable mention during the 2013 Goldwater
Scholarship selection process, one of only 50 students nationwide to enjoy this
distinction. He is majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics and works
under the guidance of Stuart Loch, associate professor of physics. Sutherland
is also a tutor in the Loachapoka Afterschool Program, a member of the
Undergraduate Research Board and a teaching assistant in the Department of
Huntsville, he will spend the summer in Cambridge, Mass., as an intern in the
Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Summer Program.
“It was a pleasure
assisting Patrick and Tyler with their Goldwater applications,” said Paul
Harris, associate director of the Honors College. “I first met Patrick when he
was enrolled in my Honors Human Odyssey Course during his freshman year and
shortly thereafter I met Tyler. They represent the very best of what my office
looks for in prestigious scholarship applicants: an intellectually curious
nature, a sincere desire to learn for learning’s sake and a ‘can-do, will-do’