Sophomore Joshua Sturm is named Goldwater Scholar for 2009–10.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – Joshua Sturm (class of 2011) of Blauvelt, New York, has been named a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar for the 2009–10 academic school year.

One of 278 students selected from an applicant pool of over 1,000 undergraduate mathematics, science, and engineering students, Sturm will receive up to $7,500 to cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board for the coming school year.

A cognitive science major, Sturm spent the past year as a research assistant in the lab of Vassar professors Jan Andrews and Kenneth Livingston, examining factors that affect concept formation and categorization in humans. Recently, he has used the computer simulation Second Life to test perceptual stimuli and design experiments in a controllable setting. Along with Andrews and Livingston, Sturm will further develop this virtual environment this summer at Vassar, during the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI).

After Vassar, Sturm plans to obtain a PhD in neuroscience, and hopes to conduct research that leads to clinical applications. In particular, he would like to explore the connection between the symptoms exhibited by people suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), and related activity in the human mirror neuron system (MNS).

Sturm hopes to use this research towards children’s education.

“I hope to examine the link [between ASD and the MNS] as it may relate to children’s abilities to adopt social roles,” Sturm said. “It could alleviate the difficulties faced by schools attempting to provide adequate care and attention to children suffering from these conditions [ASD].”

Authorized in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, the program rewards undergraduate sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue graduate degrees and careers in mathematics, natural and computer sciences, or engineering. In its 21-year history, the Foundation has awarded 5,801 scholarships worth approximately $56 million dollars.

Of the 278 Goldwater Scholarships awarded for the 2009–10 academic year, 30 are mathematics majors, 190 are science and related majors, 51 are majoring in engineering, and 7 are computer science majors. Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic qualifications that garner the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent scholars have been awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships; 102 Marshall Awards, including 7 of the 40 awarded in the United States in 2009; and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Thursday, April 30, 2009