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Three Duke juniors win Goldwater Foundation recognition

Duke University junior Vivek Bhattacharya has been recognized as a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar in Science, Mathematics and Engineering for his undergraduate research in physics and economics. The national award provides up to $7,500 toward annual tuition and expenses.

Two other Duke juniors, Daphne Ezer and Farzan Beroz, are included among the award's honorable mentions this year.

Bhattacharya is an A.B. Duke Scholar double-majoring in physics and economics. With physicist Steffen Bass, he has been using his computer skills to model the extremely hot, dense soup of sub-atomic particles that existed a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang that created the universe. Studying the soup, called quark-gluon plasma, "seems to me like a very active field of research with potentially profound implications on our understanding of the early universe and the nature of matter," Bhattacharya said.

He also has  been working with economists Andrew Sweeting and James Roberts to improve computer models simulating bidders' behaviors in online auctions. A more thorough understanding of these sales systems could "help us design tools to increase government revenue and reduce government costs" when it tries to sell a product or contract.

The research could also encourage small businesses to participate in online auctions and "minimize the chance of products being inefficiently allocated," Bhattacharya said. While at Duke, he has been president of the Math Union and a teaching assistant for the economics department. He plans to apply to graduate school in economics.

The Goldwater Scholarship Foundation selected Daphne Ezer, a junior and A.B. Duke Scholar, as an honorable mention for her research to develop "more accurate models of basic biological phenomena." A double major in computer science and biology, Ezer is also pursuing a certificate in the Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy.

Junior Farzan Beroz is a physics major currently working with the High Energy Physics Neutrino Group at Duke. The Goldwater Scholarship Foundation selected Beroz as an honorable mention for his work on programs used to simulate neutrino interactions. He is planning a career in academia and hopes to contribute to research in physical cosmology.

Each year, colleges and universities are invited to nominate up to four sophomores or juniors to the Goldwater Foundation.  Since the national program was initiated in 1988, a total of 70 Duke students have been named Goldwater Scholars.

For a complete list of Goldwater Scholars, click here.