Khanh Nguyen Awarded Goldwater Scholarship

Khanh Nguyen Awarded Goldwater ScholarshipTwo NSM Students Selected for Goldwater Honorable Mention

Khanh Nguyen
Khanh Nguyen
Khanh Nguyen, a physics and mathematics double major at the University of Houston, is one of 283 students nationwide chosen for a 2014-2015 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. She will receive up to $7,500 to support her undergraduate education.

The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most prestigious scholarships for students in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Nguyen is the only UH student selected for the honor.

“I’ve loved math since I was little and was in honors math in Vietnam,” she said. “When I moved to Houston in 2008, I had to adjust to having all my classes taught in English. Math was my best subject because I just looked at the equations and solved them.”

By her second year at Dobie High School in Pasadena, lectures in English were much easier to understand.

“My high school teacher encouraged me to try physics, and a UH physics professor visited our school and told us how physics teaches you about how the world works,” she said. “He made an impact on me, and I knew I wanted to major in physics.”

Undergraduate Research Experience

Nguyen, a junior in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM), is involved in undergraduate research and works with Zachary Kilpatrick, an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, on research in mathematical neuroscience applications. The project looks at navigational ability and the brain and uses mathematical modeling.

“If we can understand how navigation works in the brain, we can apply it to many fields like medicine and robotic cars,” Nguyen said. “Imagine a car that can drive itself to a destination and not hit any objects around it.”

She also participated in a 10-week summer research program with Dr. Lev Gelb at the University of Texas at Dallas in summer 2013.

Teaching and Tutoring UH Students

As part of NSM’s Scholar Enrichment Program, Nguyen taught the Physics II workshop in fall 2013, helping students better understand physics. This semester, she is a specialized tutor in Physics I.

“Being a workshop leader is more like being a real teacher than a tutor; it definitely gave me good experience at teaching others,” she said. “It was great to have students come back and tell me they made a good grade on a test.”

Nguyen will graduate in May 2015. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in applied mathematics and to conduct research in neuron mathematics and teach at the university level.

“It is such an honor to receive this scholarship. It will help me complete my last year at UH without having to worry about paying for tuition,” she said.

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- Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics