Carnegie Mellon University
April 13, 2020

Junior Noah Stevenson Selected as Goldwater Scholar

By Emily Payne

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS

Mathematical Sciences student Noah Stevenson has received a 2020 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, the prestigious award supports students who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, engineering and math.

Stevenson is pursuing the Mathematical Sciences Honors Degree Program. He takes both undergraduate and graduate level classes and will graduate from CMU next year with his B.S. and M.S. in mathematical sciences.

At CMU, Stevenson has molded his interests in both teaching and research. He has served as a teaching assistant for the mathematical sciences’ courses Math Studies: Analysis I and II, and he has conducted several research projects studying partial differential equations in fluid mechanics and function spaces, advised by Associate Professor Ian Tice.

His projects are influenced by his interest in applying abstract mathematical concepts to solve problems in the physical world.

For example, one of Stevenson’s projects focused on the rigorous analysis of micropolar fluid equations, which describe the dynamics of viscous fluids with microstructure such as blood, colloidal suspensions or liquid crystals. Mathematicians contribute to the understanding of fluid flow by studying the nonlinear partial differential equations that govern their motion. To that end, a major focus of modern mathematical analysis is determining when solutions to fluid equations exist and studying if and how singularities can form.

“Working in this area is challenging even for graduate students, but Noah's strong background and honors program preparation made it possible for him to do so as a rising junior,” said Tice.

Through his analysis of fluid equations, Stevenson discovered and analyzed a particular stability in micropolar fluids. His work has been submitted as a manuscript to be published.

These experiences have shaped Stevenson’s career plans to earn his Ph.D. and become a researcher and professor of mathematics. He believes the Goldwater Scholarship will help him achieve this goal not only for its financial support but because of what it means to be chosen as a Goldwater Scholar.

“Receiving the Goldwater Scholarship is reassuring to me that I am traveling along the right academic and career path,” said Stevenson. He adds that scholarship process helped him learn how to communicate mathematical ideas to non-experts, a skill that will come in handy when applying to graduate school.

Stevenson is one of 396 students selected for the scholarship from an applicant pool of over 5,000 sophomores and juniors nationwide. He is also one of four Carnegie Mellon University recipients.

Stephanie Wallach, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education, said that CMU can nominate four students annually for the award. Brittany Allison, assistant director in the Office of Undergraduate Research and National Scholarships, oversees the university’s Goldwater nomination process, which includes a committee of faculty members who discuss the nominations, and also includes working closely with each nominee before the final submission.

“Dr. Allison did a double take when she saw that all four of nominees were selected,” Wallach said. “This is an award that recognizes our CMU strengths in the fields of engineering, natural sciences and mathematics and the exceptional ability of our faculty to involve our immensely talented and highly motivated students in undergraduate research.”