University of Pittsburgh
June 12, 2014

Goldwater Scholarship Awarded to Pitt Junior Alexandre Gauthier

Physics major is second Pitt student awarded prestigious honor in 2014; 43rd since 1995
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—University of Pittsburgh junior Alexandre Gauthier has been named a 2014 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner for his outstanding undergraduate research in condensed matter physics. 

He joins junior Emily Crabb, becoming Pitt’s second 2014 Goldwater Scholar and the 43rd Pitt student to receive the honor since 1995.

“Developing human potential remains the University’s most fundamental mission, and we are proud of our ever-expanding record of student achievement,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “The Goldwater Scholarship is the highest national honor that can be won by undergraduate students studying science, math, or engineering, which makes the entire Pitt community particularly proud of Alexandre's selection.” 

Established in 1986 by the U.S. Congress, the Goldwater Scholarship was named for then-Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona and encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. The prestigious honor is awarded in either a student’s sophomore or junior year and goes toward covering tuition, room and board, fees, and books for the recipient’s remaining period of study. 

“Throughout his academic career at the University of Pittsburgh, Alexandre Gauthier has proven himself to be another one of the very talented undergraduate students we have at Pitt. This honor reflects his hard work and dedication to the field of physics as well as the hard work and dedication of our advisors in the National Scholarship Office. I am confident that Alexandre will continue to represent himself, his family, and the University of Pittsburgh well in the future,” said University Honors College Dean Edward M. Stricker. 

A native of Charlotte, N.C., Gauthier is majoring in physics in Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Following his undergraduate study at Pitt, Gauthier plans to pursue a PhD in physics. His long-term career aspirations include attaining a tenured faculty position at a research university, where both his teaching and research endeavors will focus on condensed matter physics. 

“I am grateful to the Goldwater Foundation as well as the University of Pittsburgh for providing me the assistance and the guidance to pursue a career in condensed matter physics,” said Gauthier. “I have always found this field of research fascinating both for its rich physics and its many technological applications. With the Goldwater Scholarship, I will be able to take all the skills acquired at Pitt and focus them on a career in teaching and experimental research.” Alexandre Gauthier handles an atomic force microscope within the laboratory of Pitt Professor Jeremy Levy. Gauthier played a major role in the redesign and assembly of this low temperature scanning probe microscope, which is used to study nanoscale systems at extreme temperature lows; such innovations by Gauthier have greatly enhanced the lab's productivity.

Since his freshman year at Pitt, Gauthier has served as an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Jeremy Levy, a Pitt professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute. Gauthier’s work within Levy’s lab has centered on his design and development of technologies that have enhanced the lab’s productivity. Gauthier’s innovations include the production of an advanced canvas analyzer, used to measure the electrical properties of multiterminal devices, and a low temperature scanning probe microscope, used to study electromechanical properties of single-electron transistors. 

During the summer of 2013, Gauthier interned in the Attosecond Physics Research Group of renowned physicist Eleftherios Goulielmakis at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany. During his internship, Gauthier assisted in the design of specialized computer software that supported the development of a waveform synthesizer, a device that generates customized light pulses that are used to study electrons in atoms. 

Gauthier’s other awards and distinctions include the University of Pittsburgh’s Honors Tuition Scholarship as well as the Brackenridge Research Fellowship through the University Honors College. In addition, he has been the recipient of the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium Research Scholarship, the Julia Thompson Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Writing, and the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship. 

As a Goldwater Scholar, Gauthier joins an elite group of former Pitt Goldwater honorees, some of whom have gone on to receive prestigious postgraduate awards: Pitt’s 2007 Rhodes Scholar Daniel Armanios, 2006 Rhodes Scholar Justin Chalker, and 2007 Marshall Scholar Anna Quider. 

Gauthier was nominated with assistance from Pitt’s University Honors College, which advises Pitt undergraduates, seniors, and alumni who are interested in pursuing national and international awards. Institutions can nominate up to four students for the Goldwater Scholarship. In 2014, all of Pitt’s Goldwater nominees were recognized; this is the second consecutive year that all of Pitt’s nominees have received a Goldwater Scholarship or Honorable Mention designation.