Goldwater Scholar Profiles: University of Kentucky

Editor’s Note: This is the latest in our continuing series of profiles featuring students from public university  honors programs who won Goldwater Scholarships in 2014.  The following information is from the University of Kentucky.

The University of Kentucky Office of External Scholarships announces Samuel Saarinen, of Shelbyville, Ky., has been awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship worth up to $7,500 per year. Saarinen is one of 283 students nationwide awarded the Goldwater Scholarship this year. This year’s Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,166 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

Saarinen plans to use the Goldwater Scholarship to fund studies at the graduate program of his choice.

The son of Anne and Tim Saarinen, Saarinen is currently pursuing computer science, mathematics and physics majors. He has been active in research since an early age working with Western Kentucky University professors Claus Ernst and Uta Ziegler on mathematics research in high school.

 A member of the UK Honors Program, Saarinen is currently participating in undergraduate research with Judy Goldsmith, professor of computer science at UK College of Engineering. Saarinen considers his research supervisors as also mentors who have had a major impact on his academic and personal growth. He also credits Paul Eakin, professor of mathematics, and Jerzy Jaromczyk, associate professor of computer science, as great influences on his studies.

Fellow winnerMatthew Fahrbach is a rising senior from Louisville KY with a 4.0 gpa, majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics. He was awarded a Presidential Scholarship to attend UK.  As a sophomore, Matthew was selected as a Chellgren Fellow and conducted research with Dr. Jerzy Jaromczyk on shortest k-radius sequences. He presented this research at the 2013 UK Showcase for Undergraduate Scholars. 

For the summer of 2013, he was accepted by an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program at the University of Washington where he conducted research in enumerative combinatorics under the mentorship of Dr. Sara Billey. The research showed that each peak in a peak set is a root of the corresponding peak polynomial, and furthermore, if an odd difference exists between two peaks, then a subset of the peak polynomial’s integral roots.

Matthew was the Team Captain of the University of Kentucky Association of Computing Machinery Programming Team when they were named the top public school team in the Mid-Central North American region.  He is also an active member of Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity and completes at least 20 hours of community service per semester, primarily at Peacemeal Community Gardens. Matthew will graduate from UK in May 2015 and plans to pursue a PhD in Computer Science.  He hopes to research mathematical algorithms and teach as a professor at a university. He also wants to work closely with undergraduate students by mentoring research projects and coaching a competitive programming team.