Ted Yoder '12 began his first year at Franklin & Marshall College with the intention of becoming a physics major. However, as the Lancaster County native takes a break during finals week, he talks about an addition to his academic profile—a second major, in mathematics.
"Math goes closely along with physics, so why not?" Yoder says. "These subjects give you the ability to describe the natural world so accurately and precisely."
Not content with a double major, Yoder created additional room in his schedule for a minor in computer science. He put his diverse academic portfolio to use during a Hackman Scholar project last summer, and will do so again this summer.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has taken notice of Yoder's impressive work in math and science. The foundation recently awarded Yoder a two-year, $15,000 Goldwater Scholarship, one of only 278 given to sophomores and juniors at American colleges and universities this year. The Goldwater Scholarship is a highly competitive, merit-based award offered to students preparing for careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering, and is the premier undergraduate award of its type in those fields.
"It's really an honor to be one of 300 people across the whole country to receive this award," Yoder says.
Yoder will put the scholarship toward tuition during his final two years at F&M. Like most Goldwater Scholars, he plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. He is considering a career as a professor or in research.
Until then, Yoder will have plenty to do as he completes his intensive undergraduate program. He will work on a Hackman project this summer with Gregory Adkins, the William G. and Elizabeth R. Simeral Professor of Physics, on positronium calculations. Last summer, he worked with Assistant Professor of Physics Scott Lacey on a Hackman project investigating light in deformed microspheres. Yoder wrote a computer simulation to help determine the directions of light emissions from the microspheres.
Yoder also has found time to assist the Department of Biology with research projects. He recently devised a program for Dan Ardia, assistant professor of biology, to help explore the growth data of bird chicks. He wrote code functions using Mathematica, a software program used in technical computing.
"When you're programming, you occasionally run into a wall once in a while," Yoder says. "But I can look at the documentation to figure it out, or write a function on my own."
The Goldwater Scholarship will allow Yoder to build upon his already extensive knowledge of math, physics and computer science, following in the footsteps of highly successful recipients of the award. Recent Goldwater Scholars subsequently have been awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships, 105 Marshall Awards, 90 Churchill Scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships.