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Beauty shot of Ayres Hall

University of Tennessee, Knoxville juniors Alexander Greenhalgh and Hannah Lee have been named 2022 Goldwater Scholars.

Scholarships are awarded to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The scholarships provide up to $7,500 annually to cover tuition, fees, books, and room and board.

Established in 1986, the Goldwater Scholarship was created to serve as a living memorial and honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry M. Goldwater. It is the most prestigious undergraduate STEM scholarship in the United States.

Since 2010, 26 UT students have been named Goldwater Scholars.

Meet this year’s recipients:

Alex Greenhalgh Alex Greenhalgh, a junior in materials science and engineering from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, conducts computational materials research to help build interatomic potentials for molecular dynamics simulations. He plans to attend graduate school in computational science and conduct research pertaining to national security interests at a US national laboratory.

“I am honored and grateful to be chosen as a 2022 Goldwater Scholar,” Greenhalgh said. “I am so immensely thankful for all the undergraduate research opportunities that the University of Tennessee has provided me, connecting me with wonderful mentors who genuinely care about my personal and academic growth and giving me chances to gain confidence presenting my research. I see this award as a culmination not only of my undergraduate research but also of the significant time and resources that my mentors and this university have invested in me in the past three years.”

Greenhalgh’s mentors are Claudia Rawn and David Keffer, both professors in the Department of Material Science and Engineering, and Yuanpeng Zhang, a scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Hannah Lee Hannah Lee, a junior in biochemistry, cellular, and molecular biology from Knoxville, Tennessee, currently works in the lab of Keerthi Krishnan, assistant professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology. There she is studying the brain’s ability to modify and adapt using mouse models of Rett Syndrome, a human neurodevelopmental disorder. She also collaborates with Cary Staples, a professor of graphic design, on a project to identify more novel ways of visualizing a neuroplasticity dataset by relying on programming languages and principles of graphic design. In the future, Lee plans to pursue a doctorate in neurobiology and study disorders that involve neuroplasticity.

“I feel super honored to be selected as part of the incredible Goldwater community and thank the Goldwater Foundation for making it more possible for me and many others to reach our dream careers,” said Lee. “I want to sincerely thank my wonderful mentors—Professors Keerthi Krishnan, Cary Staples, Gladys Alexandre, and William Conner—for their time, encouragement, and patience in guiding my research journey. I also want to thank Laura [De Furio, assistant director for fellowships] for supporting me during this two-year application process, helping me every step of the way and just being a wonderful counselor.”

An estimated 5,000 sophomores and juniors nationwide applied for the scholarship this year. Of those, 1,242 were nominated by 433 academic institutions, and 417 scholarships were awarded—a record increase from the previous academic year.

UT’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships facilitates the Goldwater application process and works with the Goldwater Selection Committee to choose the university’s nominees. Students who would like more information about the Goldwater Scholarship and other nationally competitive awards can visit the URF website and set up an appointment to meet with its staff.



Brian Canever (865-974-0937,

Lacey Wood (865-974-8386,