Geoscience Student Wins Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Posted on 4/18/2018 5:21:04 PM

Aaron Seidel, a senior geoscience major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has been named a winner of the Goldwater Scholarship, becoming the eighth IUP student to win the award.

Aaron Seidel selected as Goldwater ScholarThe Goldwater Scholarship, which was first awarded in 1989, honors Senator Barry Goldwater and was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. It is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

The award will cover Seidel’s expenses for the 2018-19 school year. He is the only winner among the 22 Pennsylvania recipients who is a student at a school in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education.

“I worked very hard and I gave my best effort to the application process,” Seidel said. “It feels good to be recognized for my hard work.

Seidel, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, is a member of the Cook Honors College at IUP. He is mentored by faculty members Greg Mount, Department of Geoscience, and John Benhart, chair of the Department of Geography and Regional Planning.

“Aaron's intellectual curiosity and commitment to his academic work are commendable and are key aspects of his success at IUP,” Benhart said. “I am not surprised by his selection as a Goldwater Scholar, because his approach and performance in my work with him have always been superlative.”

Seidel has already earned enough credits for a bachelor’s degree in Geoscience, but he is also halfway through the coursework for a bachelor’s in applied mathematics and has recently begun classes in environmental engineering. He plans to graduate from IUP in about two and a half years with three degrees.

“Aaron’s resiliency, tenacity, dedication, and willingness to learn motivates me to be a better scientist and educator,” Mount said. “I couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments and how he has grown as a scholar, and I can’t wait to see his work and successes as he moves forward.”

While at IUP, Seidel has excelled not just in the classroom, but has demonstrated a commitment to community. Last year, he began a project to collect unused textbooks and ship them to Africa so students in impoverished areas can learn about math, science, technology, and other areas. So far, his organization has sent more than 100,000 books to Africa.

“I wish Aaron the best,” Benhart said. “I know that he has set many more goals for his academic career.”

Seidel joins previous IUP Goldwater Scholarship winners Kara McClain (nursing), 2016; Dan O’Hara (geoscience), 2013; Kelsi Lindblad (biology), 2010; Elizabeth Paladin Jeffries (chemistry), 2007; Kristin Juhasz (biology and anthropology), 2006; Thomas Baker (chemistry), 2004; and Brigid Mooney Rotigel (mathematics), 2003.

According to its website, the Goldwater Scholarship program is designed to help alleviate the shortage of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers in the United States. Goldwater officials also note that recent Goldwater scholars have been awarded 91 Rhodes scholarships, 131 Marshall awards, 150 Churchill scholarships, and numerous other distinguished awards.

Since its first award in 1989, the Goldwater Foundation given 8,132 scholarships worth approximately $65 million.