“We believe that the Goldwater Foundation’s mission to support talented and hardworking undergraduates is very important, for both individuals and society as a whole.”
Geoff and Ellen Considine, father and daughter, are both Goldwater Scholars. Geoff was awarded the Goldwater in 1989 (the first year of the scholarship) while studying Physics at Georgia Tech. Ellen received the Goldwater in 2019, majoring in Applied Math at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder.
The legacy of the Goldwater Scholarship in our family has been substantial. For Geoff, paying his own way through school, the financial award made an enormous difference in his ability to fund his education. Graduating with relatively little debt assisted Geoff with pursuing his graduate studies, culminating in a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences from CU Boulder. Geoff was employed by NASA as a research scientist for seven years before becoming engrossed in the fields of economics and finance. Over the years, he has applied his research skills to projects including development of portfolio management software to help individuals save enough for retirement and manage their assets, analyzing data for the Grameen Foundation and USAID, designing an AI advisor for socially responsible investing, and writing a book to address the gap in financial literacy he sees in modern society. He spends lots of time thinking and writing about economic inequality and environmental policy.
Ellen received the Goldwater as a junior. While financial support was not needed, the recognition embodied in the award has been very encouraging for a young woman in STEM. In her time at CU, Ellen worked on air pollution epidemiology research and volunteered for Engineers Without Borders. These activities helped her explore and combine her interests in data science, environmental sustainability, and social equity. Ellen is now pursuing a Ph.D. in Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, emphasizing environmental health statistics topics including climate change-related exposures and measurement error. The experience of applying for the Goldwater, articulating research interests and goals, and the mentorship and recognition resulting from the award all contributed to Ellen’s ability to procure graduate support (including the NSF GRFP) and to begin her graduate studies. Now and in future years, Ellen hopes to advance the application of data science methods in environmental health monitoring, evaluation, and public policy implementation.
On a more personal note, we would like to emphasize that promoting kids’ interest in STEM can be light-hearted. Whether it was investigating the fraction of black-and-white cats in local animal shelters or trying to stump an online 20-Questions game, Ellen’s childhood exposures to science were mostly about fostering curiosity. It wasn’t until her sophomore year of college that Ellen decided to pursue science as a career path.
Ellen and Geoff feel strongly that the Goldwater Foundation’s mission to support talented and hardworking undergraduates is very important, both for individuals and for society. Undergraduate research is often a crucial trigger, inspiring a career path. As colleges and universities face budget challenges, and as students with fewer resources try to balance the ever-climbing costs of higher education, the personal inspiration and financial assistance provided by the Goldwater Scholarship can make all the difference. Earlier in the educational pipeline, we believe that broadening access to information about opportunities in STEM is of critical importance.
Finally, Geoff and Ellen both recognize the substantial commitments of time and energy that undergraduate research mentors provide. In addition to all the benefits for individual students, winning a Goldwater Scholarship helps to recognize the efforts of students’ mentors and fuel future opportunities for undergraduate research. We hope that this virtuous cycle continues, as the network of winners grows and the Goldwater Scholarship becomes more widely known across academia and beyond.