Victoria Graf and Arya Maheshwari win Goldwater Scholarships for outstanding undergraduates
Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications
Computer Science majors Victoria Graf and Arya Maheshwari have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships, an annual award for outstanding undergraduates interested in careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. They are two of four students selected from Princeton, and among the 413 scholarship recipients selected across the United States.
One- and two-year Goldwater Scholarships cover tuition, fees, room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
The scholarship program honoring Sen. Barry Goldwater was created as part of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, a federally endowed agency instituted by an act of Congress in 1986. Counting this year’s awards, the Goldwater Foundation has awarded more than 10,000 scholarships.
Graf, a junior, is a computer science major from Arlington, Virginia. She has previously won the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, awarded for “outstanding academic achievement by Princeton undergraduates in their first or second years of study,” and she is a member of the Princeton chapter of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, which “recognizes exceptional engineers and students demonstrating exemplary character” among the top eighth of the junior engineering class.
She plans to complete a Ph.D. in machine learning with a focus on natural language processing, with the goal of making language models “more helpful, honest and harmless,” she said.
“As a half-white, half-Asian female, I have always moved between cultures,” she wrote in her application. “Representation of those who are mixed-race is sparse and often emphasizes one race or the other.”
“Ultimately, I want to become a professor and mentor who empowers young women to be researchers and leaders in computer science,” she wrote.
She identified three of her own mentors who have had a meaningful role in her intellectual journey: Karthik Narasimhan, assistant professor of computer science and co-director of Princeton Natural Language Processing; Danqi Chen, assistant professor of computer science; and Dr. Amanda Staudt, principal investigator and epidemiologist at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.
Maheshwari, a sophomore, is a computer science major and mathematics minor from Los Altos, California. He previously won the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence and the Freshman First Honor Prize, awarded to the two members of the sophomore class with highest academic standing for “exceptional achievement during the first year.”
He plans to pursue a Ph.D. and research career in quantum computing. “Research in this area excites me because it has the elegance of abstract mathematical ideas while also offering significant concrete applications,” he wrote in his application. “It’s that duality that I want to contribute to in my career, discovering insights and solutions that are beautiful in their own right while having a meaningful impact on real-world problems.”
Maheshwari is also interested in closing the gap between those who have early access to programming instruction and other STEM education and those who do not. To that end, he helped lead Princeton’s Association for Computing Machinery chapter, a computer science club, and he will serve as the chair of ACM next year.
As mentors, Maheshwari identified Renyue Cen, an emeritus senior research astronomer; Matthew Weinberg, an assistant professor of computer science; and Esin Tureci, an associate research scholar in computer science.