Washington and Lee’s Troy Larsen ’22 Awarded Goldwater Scholarship Each scholar is awarded $7,500 to support undergraduate research in their junior or senior year.
Troy Larsen ’22, a math and classics major at Washington and Lee University, has won a highly competitive Goldwater Scholarship, which promotes research careers in science, mathematics and engineering.
“I was so honored to have even made it through W&L’s internal round of applications, and winning the scholarship was totally unexpected. I’ve been overjoyed ever since I received the news,” Larsen said. “In my eyes, the scholarship acts as a vote of confidence in my potential as a mathematician.”
Larsen says the scholarship will aid his research both practically and personally.
“I’ve had the extreme privilege of being financially supported in all my academic endeavors since arriving on campus,” he said. “Winning the Goldwater Scholarship gives me the means to expand upon the research I will conduct this summer as an honors thesis in my senior year, a goal I’ve been striving toward since declaring my math major.”
Larsen was informed about his scholarship selection in a unique way. Matthew Loar, director of fellowships at W&L, organized a “Zoom bomb” where various campus administrators and Larsen’s professors surprised him in class with the announcement.
“When you get to know Troy, it immediately becomes apparent why his mentors so quickly resort to superlatives,” Loar said. “He is an absolute dynamite individual and a brilliant young mathematician, and the Goldwater Scholarship is fitting recognition for Troy’s hard work and commitment to research.”
During his sophomore winter, Larsen took The Geometry of Spacetime and Black Holes, a course with Alan McRae, professor of mathematics, which Larsen says “completely changed my perspective of what conducting research and pursuing a career in math could look like.” During that same term, McRae also encouraged Larsen to apply for a summer research position studying knot theory with Elizabeth Denne, associate professor of mathematics, which Larsen says was “a decision that inevitably sold me on a career in research.”
“Troy was one of my Summer Research Scholar students during summer 2020,” Denne said. “During our work together, we ended up proving enough mathematics for two research papers on knot theory. His energy and enthusiasm for mathematics make him a joy to work with, and I am so proud of his accomplishments and look forward to seeing what he does next.”
After graduation, Larsen plans to pursue a doctorate in mathematics with the hope of one day becoming a professor and serving as a mentor to future undergraduate students.
One of the oldest and most prestigious STEM scholarships in the country, the Goldwater Scholarship aims to identify and support undergraduate sophomores and juniors who show promise of becoming research leaders in their respective fields and intend to pursue a doctorate degree. Each selected scholar is awarded $7,500 to support undergraduate research in their junior or senior year.