The Columns

Joseph McDonald ’10 Wins Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

— by on April 8th, 2008

Washington and Lee University sophomore Joseph McDonald, a physics and mathematics major from San Antonio, Texas, has been awarded a prestigious Goldwater scholarship.

Goldwater Scholarships support study in the fields of mathematics, engineering and the natural sciences as preparation for careers in these areas. The one- and two-year awards cover eligible expenses, including tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

McDonald’s proposal was composed of research he participated in this past summer with physics professors Tom Williams and Paul Bourdon during the R.E. Lee Research Program. “It involves theoretical physics with the subject being quantum entanglement,” said McDonald.

When he isn’t studying, McDonald is very interested in music. “I play my guitar when I need to sit down and relax, away from my studies,” said McDonald. “It puts my mind at ease and lets me escape for a little while.” He also takes lessons in jazz improvisation.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is highly prestigious and the awards process is very competitive,” says Marcia France, W&L’s Goldwater liaison. “Only 321 were awarded nationwide. In addition to needing outstanding academic credentials, nominees are also required to write an essay discussing an idea for research in their field of study. Joey McDonald’s proposal on deterministic dense-coding with qutrits and d-level qudits was outstanding. This is an impressive and well-deserved honor. We are delighted that he has been awarded this scholarship.”

His plans for the future are undecided at this point, but he hopes to possibly study physics or mathematics in grad school. “Electrical engineering is also something that interests me,” said McDonald. “It would be great to combine both electrical engineering with my music. Working with guitar circuits and pedals would be a lot of fun.”

In 1986, Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program to honor Senator Goldwater for his exceptional service to the U.S. Goldwater served this country for 56 years as both a soldier and a statesman, including his 30 years in the Senate.