Junior Robert Moakler Receives Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship


Robert Moakler was recently selected as a recipient of the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for the 2011-2012 school year. The Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit, this year from a field of 1,095 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.
Dr. Jeffrey Nickerson recommended Robert for consideration. Robert has been working closely with Dr. Nickerson on research projects since the summer before his sophomore year, through the Stevens Scholar Program. After meeting with the scholarship committee and presenting a rough draft of an essay, Robert was one of four students from Stevens nominated to the Goldwater Foundation. With collaboration from Dr. Nickerson, Robert prepared and submitted his essay entitled: Trending as a Means for Communication and the Spread of Lies.
Robert (BS/MS, ’12) found out from Rosemary Dice, assistant dean of undergraduate academics at Stevens, that he’d been awarded the scholarship. Dean Dice served as Robert’s advisor throughout the scholarship application process.
“Working with Robert was a pleasure – in addition to being an incredibly bright student he is also a really good guy,” stated Dean Dice. “On the first draft of his research statement, everything that would have been “bragging”, which is to say all of the particularly unique and challenging things he has done, Robert had notated in parentheses. I had to convince him that he had to do a bit more self-promoting when writing his statement. We eventually removed the parentheses.”
Robert is Stevens' second Goldwater Scholar. Samuel Barrett, a member of the class of 2008, was the first, selected in 2007. This year, Jennifer Wehof, a sophomore Environmental Engineering major, received an honorable mention.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. Since its first award in 1989, the Foundation has bestowed over 6,600 scholarships worth approximately fifty million dollars.
Of this year’s recipients, one hundred seventy of the Scholars are men, 105 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Twenty-four Scholars are mathematics majors, 194 are science and related majors, 52 are majoring in engineering, and 5 are computer science majors. Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines.
Robert will graduate in 2012 with a BS in Physics and an MS in Service Oriented Computing. In addition to the Stevens Scholars Program, Robert is also a member of the Society of Physics Students. He works in the Center for Decision Technologies in the Howe School of Technology Management, where he researches social networks and how they are used throughout the world.
“Working with Dr. Nickerson has been great,” Robert said. “He has given me the freedom to explore my interests and focus on those. It’s this research experience that inspired my submission for the Goldwater Scholarship.”
Stevens appealed to Robert because of the opportunity to study more than just engineering. He recalls visiting campus for the Annual Reception for Accepted Students, his decision to attend solidified by the people he met that day and the location of the school in general. After Stevens, he plans to apply to PhD programs in Cognitive Computing.
“Being named a Goldwater Scholar for my last year at Stevens is a great honor,” Robert said. “I look forward to finishing up my degrees here and then hopefully pursuing my PhD.”
“I couldn’t possibly say enough good things about Robert – obviously his academic achievements are incredible and speak for themselves, and to be rewarded with the Goldwater is just fantastic,” concluded Dean Dice. “He represents the very best of the Stevens student body.”