Mahiro Abe ‘20, a physics major, was chosen as a recipient of this year’s Goldwater Scholarship, given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to support students pursuing graduate study and careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.
“Astrophysics has always been one of my main research interests since freshman year, so I am very excited,” Abe said.
Established by Congress in 1986, the Scholarship Program awards up to $7,500 per academic year to recipients. Since its inception, more than 8,628 scholarships have been awarded totaling $68 million. This year, 1,223 students were nominated by 443 academic institutions to compete for Goldwater scholarships and 496 students were selected for awards.
“The Goldwater Scholarship is meant to cover tuition costs,” Abe said. “The application process involved writing about my academic interests and research at Cornell, so it definitely helped me think more deeply about my interests within physics.”
Abe, who is a Tanner Dean’s Scholar, has been conducting research at the Cornell NanoScale Science & Technology Facility (CNF) to help develop instruments that can be used to trace regions of early galaxy formation. Over the summer, he will be participating in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) summer undergraduate research program. This is a large collaboration between Caltech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that works on detecting gravitational waves and is supported by the National Science Foundation. Predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916, gravitational waves are “ripples” in space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe. Abe’s project will be focused on instrumentation and designing metamaterials that will improve LIGO detector sensitivity.
“The project is an opportunity to bring together a lot of different things I have learned over the past few years,” Abe said, “astronomy instrumentation from my research here at Cornell, gravitational wave physics, which I learned in a general relativity course, and metamaterials, which I took two courses on in the past.”
After graduation, Abe intends to pursue graduate studies in physics and conduct research in astrophysics.