Physics, Math Major Wins Goldwater Scholarship

By Whitney Hale

An outdoors photo of Yuke Wang. The University of Kentucky Office of Nationally Competitive Awards has announced that sophomore  Yuke Wang has received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The UK College of Arts & Sciences student is among 396 students nationwide selected to receive the 2020-21 Goldwater Scholarship.

This year's Goldwater Scholars were selected based on academic merit from a field of 1,343 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of 461 of the nation's colleges and universities.

Wang, who calls Lexington home, is pursuing majors in physics and mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences and computer science in the College of Engineering. He  started focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) studies during his teen years at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.

“I first developed an interest in physics while doing research for Dr. (Christopher) Crawford in high school,” he said. “The computer science and math majors help prepare me for work in research.”

Wang continued working with his UK mentor, Professor Crawford, of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, after enrolling at the university. As part of this undergraduate research, he helped with the development of a finite-length impulse response filter on field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to determine particle energies for nuclear physics experiments. Wang has also worked on computational algorithms on the Tiny Titan cluster under the direction of instructional designer Max Brown. In addition, he has served as an officer in UK’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students.

Outside of UK, Wang has worked on artificial intelligence for neutron scattering data analysis as part of a research project led by Tyler Martin, a materials research engineer and SANS beamline scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Upon completion of his bachelor's degrees, Wang plans to pursue a doctorate in theoretical physics.The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was authorized by Congress to honor the former U.S. senator who served the nation for 30 years. The program, which is currently featuring stories on three previous UK Goldwater Scholars on its website, was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has bestowed 9,047 scholarships worth approximately $71 million. This year marks the second year that scholarships have been presented in partnership with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs.

The Goldwater Scholarship will help cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board for Wang.

The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, part of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Student and Academic Life, assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with the office well in advance of the scholarship deadline. Staff is available for virtual appointments to discuss opportunities for the 2020-2021 academic year and beyond.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.