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UT undergraduates Kimberly Bress, Christopher Neal, and Andrew Wintenberg ­­­­­­have been named 2017–18 Goldwater Scholars.

One of the most prestigious scholarship programs for undergraduates, the Goldwater Scholarship Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater. It was designed to encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering.

Since 2006, UT has had 17 students named Goldwater Scholars.

“Kimberly, Andrew, and Christopher are outstanding students, creative thinkers, and future research leaders who have really benefited from close faculty mentoring at UT,” said Andrew Seidler, director of UT’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships. “Being named Goldwater Scholars means they have competed successfully with the finest undergraduate STEM students in the country. This is a tremendous accomplishment for each of them and, with three Goldwater Scholars in a single year, a clear indication of the quality of students at UT.”

Here is a look at UT’s three newest Goldwater Scholars:

Kimberly Bress, of Melbourne Beach, Florida, is a junior Haslam Scholar majoring in neuroscience and mental health through the College Scholars program. She received an honorable mention in the Goldwater Scholars program last year.

Bress, who has done research since 2015 with Associate Professor Matthew Cooper in the Department of Psychology, explores the biological, chemical, and neural foundations of brain function, with a specific focus on stress-related mental illness and models of neuropsychiatric disorders. Her goals are to pursue a medical degree and a doctoral degree in behavioral neuroscience while continuing her research on the neurobiological mechanisms underlying susceptibility and resilience to stress. She wants to increase the understanding of the biological foundations of mental illness and apply this knowledge to develop more effective treatments for disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Bress has served as student director for the Center for Leadership and Service Ignite Outdoors program. She plays oboe in the UT Symphony.

“I have been encouraged by several incredible mentors,” Bress said. “My professors, advisors, and peers have seen me through every step of the research process. My academic experience would not be what it is without all of their patience, support, and constant willingness to teach. Receiving the Goldwater is a rare privilege, and I am grateful beyond measure for the people who have guided me towards this opportunity.”

Christopher Neal, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is a junior majoring in chemical and biomolecular engineering. He is a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program, Tau Beta Pi engineering honors society, and the Tickle College of Engineering’s Joseph C. and Judith E. Cook Grand Challenge Scholars Program.

Neal has done research with Thomas Zawodzinski Jr., the Governor’s Chair for Electrical Energy Conversion and Storage, and Senior Research Associate Gabriel Goenaga for more than two years. He has worked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and numerous international companies.

Neal is a member of the Chem-E-Car Team and has served as the team’s captain for the past year. He is also a resident assistant in the new Stokely Hall.

His goals are to earn a doctorate in chemical engineering with a focus on electrochemistry. He wants to conduct research on alternative electrical energy storage devices (that is, upcoming battery technologies) and teach at the university level.

“Earning the Barry Goldwater Scholarship is perhaps the greatest honor I have ever received,” he said, adding that the scholarship is likely to open doors for him. “This scholarship has afforded me the opportunity to realize my full potential in research and academic excellence.”

Andrew Wintenberg, of Farragut, Tennessee, is a junior majoring in mathematics and electrical engineering.

He has been researching methods in nonintrusive load monitoring with Professor Hairong Qi in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In addition, he has researched Butson Hadamard matrices with Associate Professor Remus Nicoara of the Department of Mathematics.

Wintenberg’s goals are to earn a doctorate in mathematics and conduct research on mathematical methods in signal processing.

“Being selected as a Goldwater Scholar is a great honor. I am excited to continue my research career with the opportunities provided by this award,” he said.

There were 1,286 applicants for the 240 Goldwater Scholarships awarded this year. Since 1989, the Goldwater Foundation has awarded 7,921 scholarships worth approximately $63 million.

UT can nominate up to four undergraduates for the Goldwater Scholarship each year. The Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships facilitates the application process and its UT Goldwater Selection Committee chooses the final nominees. Committee members were Gladys Alexandre, professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology; Nicoara; Masood Parang, associate dean and professor of engineering; and Gina Pighetti, associate professor of animal science.

For guidance on applying for the Goldwater Scholarship, contact the Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships at


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,