Four UA Students Named Goldwater Scholars in 2017

Four UA Students Named Goldwater Scholars in 2017

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program has selected four University of Alabama students as Goldwater Scholars for 2017-2018.

From 2007 to 2017, UA is No. 1 in the United States for Goldwater Scholars with 31. Harvard is second with 29. UA is one of only four institutions — along with Stanford, Princeton and Iowa State — to have as many as four nominees selected this year. In addition, 2017 is the third time in the past seven years that UA has had all four nominees selected for this award.

The four UA students are:

Sean Devey, of North Salem, New York. Field of Study: Engineering

Sean Devey

Devey is a junior in aerospace engineering. Since August 2015, he has worked on a novel method for passive separation control inspired by the scales of the fast-swimming shortfin mako shark with advisers, Dr. Paul Hubner and Dr. Amy Lang, associate professors in aerospace engineering. Outside of research, Devey is vice president of the Tuska UAV Design Team and has been known to enjoy a good game of ultimate Frisbee. Devey hopes to earn his doctorate in aerospace engineering. His parents are Mary Cate and Larry Devey.

Alison Farrar, of South Pasadena, California. Field of Study: Physics and Astronomy

Alison Farrar

Farrar has conducted research on theoretical materials physics with the Mewes Magnetics Laboratory for the past two years. Her faculty mentor at UA is Dr. Claudia Mewes, an associate professor of physics and astronomy and member of the MINT Center. Her work investigates anisotropic damping, a new phenomenon of micromagnetic behavior found in the modern magnetic materials used for computer storage devices and medical technology. Farrar is a member of the Computer-Based Honors Program and has previously worked on research at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Southern California. Outside of research, Farrar is a leader in organizations for intercultural diversity and supporting women in STEM and volunteers at the Good Samaritan medical clinic. She plans to pursue a research career in medical nanotechnology as an M.D.-Ph.D. Her parents are Frank and Dana Farrar.

Melissa Mathews, of Birmingham. Field of Study: Engineering

Melissa Mathews

Mathews is a chemical engineering major and a Computer-Based Honors student from Birmingham. With Dr. Lin Li, assistant professor of metallurgical and materials engineering, she creates computational models of a well-known thermoelectric material Bismuth Telluride (Bi2Te3) to better study its mechanical properties. This fundamental study is a vital step toward improving the materials efficiency and therefore broadening its applications. Currently, Mathews co-ops with Eastman Chemical Co. in Kingsport, Tennessee, where she has worked as a process improvement engineer and a process design engineer. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, skiing and other types of outdoor activities. Her parents are Lisa and Jay Mathews.

Melissa Uehling, of Cary, North Carolina. Field of Study: Life Sciences

Melissa Uehling

Uehling has conducted research since the fall of her freshman year on the neurological disorders torsion dystonia and Alzheimer’s disease. Her work on torsion dystonia involved drug discovery research, and her work on Alzheimer’s has focused on genetic factors that influence disease pathology. Her faculty mentors are Drs. Guy and Kim Caldwell, professors of biological sciences. She hopes to earn a doctorate in molecular biology to continue her study of neurodegenerative disorders as a career. Outside the lab, she is involved in the Delta Tree Initiative, an outreach program that encourages young girls to pursue careers in science. She is an editor for UA’s research journal, JOSHUA. Her parents are David and Julie Uehling.

This year, 1,286 students from 470 institutions were nominated for a Goldwater scholarship. The program named 240 new Goldwater Scholars and identified 307 students as Honorable Mentions.

The scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 a year for up to two years.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on Nov. 14, 1986. The scholarship program honoring U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.


Richard LeComte, media relations,, 205/348-3782