Scott Cushing, a junior studying physics with an area of emphasis in materials science at West Virginia University, has been named a 2010 Goldwater Scholar.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship pays tribute to Sen. Goldwater’s 56 years of service and leadership to the United States as both solider and statesman through an endowed recognition program that encourages outstanding students to pursue careers as advanced scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

Cushing joins 32 other Goldwater Scholars who hail from WVU. In fact, the University is a leading land-grant institution in students being honored, with at least one Goldwater Scholar from WVU named in each of the past 20 years, except 2008.

“I am deeply honored to be chosen,” Cushing said. ” I think this award speaks to the academic quality of WVU – especially the talented students, faculty and staff the University attracts.”

“I’m very proud of Scott and his remarkable achievement,” said President James P. Clements, who notified him of the award.

“I told him when I gave him the good news that being named a Goldwater Scholar puts him in the ranks of the best young scientists in the nation – and is an excellent example of the high caliber of undergraduate research being undertaken here at WVU.”

The Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate award of its type and recognizes the commitment and potential each winner has to make a significant contribution to science.

WVU’s Goldwater Scholars

1989 – Robert McTaggart
1989 – Tamara Henry
1990 – Eric B. McDaniel
1991 – Kimberly Bush
1991 – James Gifford
1992 – James J. Lyons
1992 – Danny O. Cline
1993 – Tina L. Johnson
1993 – Jason F. Chipps
1994 – Westley D. Cox
1994 – Susan P. Lewis
1994 – Misty K. Trent
1995 – Jared C. Gump
1995 – L. Jeremy Richardson
1996 – Trisha L. Kalbaugh
1997 – Anna L. Blobaum
1998 – Robert Lee Clem
1999 – Aletha J. Lee
2000 – Richard C. Soulsby
2001 – Matthew C. Lechliter
2001 – Callee McConnell
2002 – Brian Kent
2003 – Anna Zaniewski
2003 – Brendan McGeehan
2004 – Forrest Doss
2005 – Ryan Murphy
2006 – Rebecca McCauley
2006 – Eli Owens
2006 – Kerri Phillips
2007 – Kellen Callinger
2009 – Emily Calandrelli
2009 – Andrew Higgins

Cushing is no exception. Currently, he is working on developing a visible light activated photocatalyst. Usually titanium (IV) oxide photocatalysts are only activated by UV light, but by combining nanoscale features and surface plasmon resonance, Cushing has been able to make the photocatalyst useful in the visible light range.

Devices that are currently only effective with special UV lamps can now be efficiently powered by visible light – sunshine, household lights and other common lighting sources.

His photocatalyst could be used to break down water into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen as an energy-efficient way to power hydrogen fuel cells. Or it could be used as an eco-friendly cleaning solution, breaking down harmful viruses on commonly used surfaces.

Cushing has been successfully working on this project since he was a freshman with Dr. Nick Wu, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“It has been an honor and extremely fulfilling to work with Dr. Wu all this time,” Cushing said. “He’s been able to support me and set me up in my own research lab in Engineering Sciences, and for that I am truly grateful.”

Cushing plans to continue working in the lab, and eventually earn a doctorate in physics so he can teach, conduct research and mentor at the university level.

“I love teaching. I help my friends all the time with their physics and math, and I want to continue this process within academia. I also want to continue and expand on my research, so becoming a professor is truly my calling,” Cushing said.

Cushing is one of 278 sophomore and junior mathematics, science and engineering majors from across the United States selected from over a thousand applications, and the only West Virginia resident, to win a Goldwater Scholarship this year.

Each scholarship covers the cost of undergraduate tuition, fees, books and room and board up to $7,500 annually.

Cushing is from Charleston, W.Va. and graduated from George Washington High School.



CONTACT: WVU News & Information Services

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