By: Dale Long, Director of Rose-Hulman Media Relations
Undergraduate research opportunities in mathematical problem solving has helped junior baseball player Casey Garner to be recognized as a Goldwater Scholar, one of the most prestigious honors for undergraduate students majoring in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.
Garner was among 211 Goldwater Scholars (along with Rose-Hulman classmate Anna Braun of Union, Ky.) selected from 1,280 candidates nationwide based upon academic merit. He will receive $7,500 from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to support his continued studies.
Seven Rose-Hulman students in the past four years and 11 over the past nine years have been named a Goldwater Scholar or honorable mention designee. Several of these alumni Goldwater Scholars have gone on to earn doctorate and medical degrees, and become physicians, researchers, scientists and product development professionals.
"The fact that Rose-Hulman consistently has students recognized as Goldwater Scholars and honorable mentions provides validation at the national level that our students rank among the top students in the country," says Rose-Hulman's Goldwater Scholar campus representative Bill Weiner, director of strategic initiatives and associate professor of biology and biomedical engineering.
Garner, from Carlisle, Ind., has continued his high academic achievements at Rose-Hulman, where he maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA as a mathematics and computational science double major. He is working with mathematics professor Allen Holder to develop a new mathematical model that's an extension of Data Envelopment Analysis, a useful tool in applied mathematics. He presented their research at Rose-Hulman's Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Symposium last fall and is planning to make another presentation on the topic at the institute's 2018 Undergraduate Mathematics Conference. Garner is planning to explore applied mathematics this summer during a National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates project at Cornell University.
Garner's inquisitive nature was pointed out by mathematics professor Dave Goulet, who asked students in a Systems Biology course a question that he later realized had a faulty premise and therefore was unanswerable. Goulet informed his students to ignore the problem. A few days later, Garner submitted a solution to the problem anyway, after finding a way to modify the problem.
"His work was very clever and his fix was not obvious to me at first," Goulet explains. "It was clear that Casey had spent a considerable amount of time analyzing possibilities until he discovered a resolution. He is tenacious and creative. He doesn't simply solve problems, he analyzes them deeply to understand their essence."
For his part, Garner says, "My goal from my first day at Rose-Hulman has been to do my best and see where it takes me. It has been a great journey so far."
Outside the classroom, Garner is a reserve second baseman on the varsity baseball team, the team's representative to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and a member of the InterVarsity Christian fellowship student organization and Tau Beta Pi. Christian faith is a guiding force in his life, according to Garner.
A total of seven Indiana college students were selected Goldwater Scholars this year. Outside of Indiana, colleges with multiple Goldwater Scholars were Harvard University (3), Stanford University (3), Johns Hopkins University (3), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2), University of Chicago (2), Duke University (2) and Columbia University (2).