University of South Carolina

20 in a row: 3 USC students earn Goldwater scholarships

By Megan Sexton, msexton@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-777-5400

Three University of South Carolina students have been named Goldwater Scholars, a prestigious honor awarded to the nation’s top undergraduates pursuing careers in math, science and engineering.

William “Cole” Franks, Daniel Grier and Gerry Koons have been named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholars. The 282 scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 students nominated by faculty members at colleges and universities nationwide. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 a year.

The Goldwater scholarship is awarded to sophomores and juniors pursuing degrees in natural sciences, mathematics or engineering and intending to pursue a career in research or college-level teaching: Virtually all the scholars intend to obtain a Ph.D. in their respective fields. Each participating university can nominate up to four students for the award.

This marks the 20th consecutive year that USC has had one or more Goldwater Scholars and a total of 41 scholarships have been won by USC students since 1990.

Franks is from Greenville and is a junior double-majoring in mathematics and physics and is a member of the South Carolina Honors College. USC’s William B. Douglas Carolina Scholar, Franks also was awarded the Cary K. Smith Jr. Mathematics scholarship, given annually by the mathematics department. Franks is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor Society, a volunteer tutor at Dreher High School and an ACE math tutor. He is currently participating in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program in Hungary. Franks plans to complete a Ph.D. in mathematics and focus on research and teaching at a university. He is the son of Wade and Mary Jo Franks of Greenville and is a graduate of Southside High School.

Grier is a junior from Greenville with a double major in mathematics and computer science. He is a member of the South Carolina Honors College and a National Merit Scholar. Grier is the recipient of both the Lieber and Palmetto scholarships, as well as the Wilson Scholarship, given by the department of computer science for undergraduate research. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, he is also the recipient of the Computer Research Association Undergraduate Research Award. His current research includes work with Stephen Fenner in USC’s computer science department on two-player mathematical strategy games played over partially ordered sets. Grier is participating in the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program in Hungary. He is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematics Honor society, a math tutor at Dreher High School and plays on the International Men’s Soccer Club team at USC. Grier plans to complete a Ph.D. in mathematics and conduct research in discrete mathematics while teaching at the university level. Grier is the son of Marion and Jon Grier of Greenville and is a graduate of Southside High School.

Koons is from Wayne, Pa., and is a sophomore biomedical engineering major and German minor in the South Carolina Honors College. She is a McNair Scholar, National Merit Scholar and the recipient of both the Lieber and Joseph M. Biedenbach Engineering scholarships. She holds officer positions for the McNair Scholars Association and the Biomedical Engineering Society. She works as a research assistant at the USC School of Medicine, focusing on skeletal muscle tissue engineering for use in craniofacial surgery, for which she has received a Magellan Scholar research grant. She also has worked as a research assistant with the Academic Associates Emergency Medicine Clinical Research Program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Koons plans to complete a joint M.D.-Ph.D. in biomedical engineering with a specific focus on clinical research in pediatric craniofacial surgery. Koons is the daughter of Nancy R. and Robert “Bob” A. Koons Jr. of Wayne, Pa., and is a graduate of Radnor High School.

USC’s Goldwater committee is chaired by Douglas Meade of mathematics. Other faculty members are: Melissa Moss (chemical and biomedical engineering), Scott Goode (chemistry), Susan Alexander (South Carolina Honors College) and Gwen Geidel (earth and ocean sciences). The committee worked closely with nominees in preparing their applications. The Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs  further assisted the Goldwater applicants.

About the Goldwater Scholarship

  • What: Competitive award given to nation's top undergraduates pursuing careers in math, science and engineering.
  • Who: William “Cole” Franks and Daniel Grier,  both of Greenville, and Gerry Koons of Wayne, Pa., were named Goldwater scholars.



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Posted: 04/10/12 @ 4:00 PM | Updated: 05/21/12 @ 4:50 PM | Permalink