Nicholas Richardson ’22 Receives Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Nicholas Richardson ’22 Receives Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for Physics Research

Photo of Nicholas and Dr. Biscelli

Goldwater Scholar Nicholas Richardson ’22 with Angela Biselli, PhD.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier award for undergraduate students who plan to pursue careers in math, the natural sciences, or engineering.

This award was the culmination of so many people's hard work.

— Nicholas Richardson ’22

The Goldwater Scholarship Program, one of the oldest and most notable national scholarships for STEM students in the United States, aims to support college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate what it takes to become the next generation of research leaders in their fields. Nicholas Richardson '22, a physics and computer science double-major, has been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship for excelling in both his academics at Fairfield and for his research in physics, specifically in condensed matter theory.

"This award was the culmination of so many people's hard work, such as Kim Baer and Dr. Van Dyke for mentoring me during the application process, Dr. Boryczka and the Provost's Office for overall support, Drs. Biselli and Nazarian for nominating me for this scholarship and advising me academically, and Drs. Pantelides and O'Hara at Vanderbilt for advising my research. Without each of these people, this award would not have been possible."

Richardson conducted his research during an internship through the National Science Foundation Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) program at Vanderbilt University. During the ten-week program, Richardson was co-mentored by Vanderbilt professors Andrew O’Hara, PhD, and Sokrates Pantelides, PhD. He continued the work in the fall and spring of 2020 and went on to present his findings at the America Physical Society Meeting in March of this year for his project titled “Creation of a Monolayer Ferroelectric Using Substitutional Impurities.”

“The research I’m pursuing now is in nuclear physics. The goal of the project is to learn about the Generalized Parton Distributions (GPDs) of the deuteron to discover how the individual quarks that make up the deuteron are distributed.”

Richardson began his latest research project over the summer and is continuing the work for his senior capstone under the guidance of Angela Biselli, PhD, professor of physics at Fairfield. Dr. Biselli specializes in the field of nuclear and particle physics at intermediate energies and conducts her research at the Jefferson Lab in Newport News, VA.

“Nicholas is analyzing electron scattering off a deuteron target data taken at Jefferson Laboratory,” said Dr. Biselli. “His data analysis is at a graduate level, involving the development of complex code and a deep understanding of the nuclear process. Nicholas presented his preliminary results at the October APS meeting in Boston and is now improving his analysis using cutting edge machine learning techniques. His physics knowledge, combined with his programming and computational skills, has been a real asset to this project funded by my NSF grant (RUI: Study of the Nucleon Structure Using Deeply Virtual Compton Scattering at Jefferson Lab).”

Richardson’s ultimate goal is to pursue a PhD program and he is in the process of finalizing his applications for graduate school.

“Another personal goal of mine is to raise awareness of a big problem in the sciences,” said Richardson. “Certain groups of people, including women and people of color, are underrepresented in the sciences. I hope to address that in my professional career.”

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