Thomas F. Kieffer, a senior majoring in applied mathematics and physics, recently received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarschip. Kieffer's work focuses on computational astrophysics. “I make use of high performance computing to capture interplay of universal processes such as gravity, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, and radiation,” he said. “A better understanding of these process in an astrophysical context can, in turn, yield results that strengthen the understanding of these processes in other branches of physics.” Kieffer, whose other interests include fitness and playing guitar, said he has been curious about the “cosmological scale of the universe” since he was a child in Navarre, Fla. His first priority upon arriving at Georgia Tech was to find a research position in astrophysics, and by the end of his first semester, he was working with Tamara Bogdanovic, a theoretical astrophysicist and assistant professor in the School of Physics at Georgia Tech.
Kieffer said he is excited about the award, which covers tuition, fees, books, and room and board for $7,500 a year. “It will improve my application quality for graduate schools and the financial support is very helpful, of course,” he said.
His goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and become a professor. He wants to continue doing research to aid in the growth and development of fundamental science, and he also wants to effectively communicate his discoveries to fellow scientists and the general public.
“I just feel a sort of happiness when learning about how nature works,” Kieffer said.
Named for U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, the Goldwater Scholarship is awarded to students in science, mathematics and engineering who intend to pursue research careers in their fields, with the intent of providing a continuing source of highly qualified scholars in these areas.