Carnegie Mellon University
May 22, 2019

Mellon College of Science Students Named Goldwater Scholars

By Ben Panko

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Mellon College of Science

Two Carnegie Mellon University students have been named 2019 Goldwater Scholars.

William Fahy, and Jung Joo Suh, both students in CMU's Mellon College of Science, are among this year's 496 recipients of the scholarship.

The award, given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, recognizes second- and third-year college students intending to pursue research careers in mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences and provides up to $7,500 per undergraduate year for tuition, mandatory fees, books, room and board.

CMU has been home to 35 Goldwater scholars.

Explosive Exploration

Fahy, a second-year chemistry student, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry after his graduation.

"I'm working on a really active subfield of atmospheric chemistry," Fahy said of his research.

Under Associate Professor of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering Ryan Sullivan, Fahy has been researching how particles, specifically volcanic ash, can be changed in the upper atmosphere, and how this could change the particles' effects on the formation of ice. Volcanic eruptions can send large amounts of particulate matter into the air, Fahy noted, and these minerals can be exposed to a variety of conditions and chemicals in the atmosphere that could alter their properties. The resulting products of these interactions could have major effects on radiative forcing processes that drive climate change.

"The implications are enormous," Fahy said. "We don't really have a good understanding of this yet." Using a specially designed reaction chamber in Sullivan's lab, Fahy is able to expose volcanic ash to a variety of simulated conditions and precisely observe how it reacts.

Outside of his research, Fahy plays eight different kinds of flute and is a member of Carnegie Mellon's All-University Orchestra and flute choir. He also has served as a Highland Ambassador, been a member of Carnegie Mellon Rocket Command, served as communications director for Model United Nations and been treasurer for Project Ignite. As a first-year student, Fahy was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), and he recently took the top prize in the environmental research category at the 2019 Meeting of the Minds.

"William has shown noteworthy initiative in research starting in high school and continuing soon after he arrived at Carnegie Mellon," said Richelle Bernazzoli, assistant director of the Undergraduate Research Office. "We have been especially pleased to see William's contributions recognized both on campus as well as nationally with the Goldwater Scholarship.""

This summer, Fahy will participate in an International SURF at the University of Leeds. He said his Goldwater scholarship will help him follow his goal of going to graduate school and eventually working on teaching and environmental research and policy.

"I feel it's going to open a lot of doors for me," Fahy said.

Foundation for Research

Suh, a third-year mathematical sciences student, plans to enter a Ph.D. program in mathematics after graduation, with a focus on research in descriptive set theory and analysis.

"I've been interested in math for a long time," Suh noted, especially set theory, which studies well-behaved subsets of certain topological spaces. "These topological spaces can sometimes be visualized as a certain graph, and with the graph theoretic interpretation a lot of interesting questions can be asked."

Under Associate Professor Clinton Conley, Suh has been focusing especially on clopen sets — a set that is both open and closed — in a specific topological space.

Suh said he enjoys doing research, and that its challenges make discovering new ideas rewarding.

"When you're struck on a problem, you can't ask for help," Suh noted.

Bernazzoli said Suh was a wonderful representative of CMU's robust undergraduate mathematics program. While under Conley's mentorship, Suh has built deep foundations in several subfields and taken on ambitious research.

"This is the sort of intellectual boldness that the Goldwater Scholarship seeks out and nurtures," Bernazzoli said. "We are delighted to see Jung Joo's work recognized with this prestigious national award, and we look forward to following his career as a mathematician."

Besides research, Suh has spent time working as a peer tutor, grader and teaching assistant. He is excited about his Goldwater scholarship, and he said applying for it has helped him organize his research into a coherent narrative. Overall, Suh said being recognized as a Goldwater scholar will aid his goal of attending graduate school.

"It shows that you're ready to be a researcher," Suh said.