Gold star students win Goldwater scholarships

Two material science majors are among national winners for prestigious award


WORTHY OF GOLD: Junior material science majors Tayo Sanders, front, and Max Dylla in the material science center in Phillips Science Hall. Both are recipients of the Barry Goldwater scholarship. © 2014 Courtney Kueppers, The Spectator

Story by Courtney Kueppers, Copy Editor

After a long application process for a prestigious science scholarship, junior Max Dylla checked the results to see if he had been selected.

Under the list of scientists selected from Wisconsin, he saw his classmate’s name, Tayo Sanders, but not his own.

“I thought, ‘Oh good job, Tayo, Bummer I didn’t get it,’” Dylla said.

Dylla later figured out the recipients’ of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program were filed under their home state, and he was happy to find his name under Minnesota, he said.

Dylla and Sanders, both junior material science majors, are two of 283 awarded the nationwide scholarship for 2014.

The scholarship is exclusive to students pursuing careers in science, mathematics or engineering and includes a $7,500 stipend.

Each university can select four students to apply for the scholarship. Dylla and Sanders found out they had been selected to apply in early October, turned in their applications by the end of January and heard they had been selected by the end of spring break. They are two of the nine scholars selected from Wisconsin for this year.

“It was a little bit of disbelief,” Sanders said. “Eau Claire hasn’t had too many winners since we are a smaller school.”

To receive the Goldwater scholarship, applicants must have strong academics as well as research experience.

Dylla and Sanders have both been doing research within the material science department since they were freshmen.

Dylla works with professor Matt Jewell on researching superconductors, which create electricity without any resistance.

“He was a Blugold Fellow, this is a fellowship for incoming freshman who are high achieving and want to do research in the sciences,” Jewell said. “It allows us to identify top talents and get them involved right away. He approached me about it and said he was interested in my work.”

Jewell said Dylla’s ability to work independently and solve problems has helped him to excel like he has.

Sanders has spent his research time with professor Jennifer Dahl working with cross-linked gold nanoparticles.

When Sanders came to college he planned on being a biochemistry major, but after working with Dahl, he realized his love for material science, he said.

“No questions asked, Dr. Dahl has been the largest influence on my career,” Sanders said. “I started doing research with her freshman year and I fell in love with it. The material science classes are fantastic and the professors are really passionate.”

Dylla said his experience doing research has also affirmed for him that material science is the right career path for him.

“Material science is just great because it’s kind of the crossroads between science and physics and chemistry which is really great,” Dyalla said. “I think I’m just interested in working with solid materials instead of liquids like you would in chemistry which is why I think it is such a good fit for me.”

This summer, Dylla and Sanders will both participate in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

Dyalla will spend his summer at Northwestern University and Sanders will be in France. Both will work on research within the field.