Another First for Mason: A Goldwater Scholar

Posted: April 9, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Ryann Doyle

Philip Naudus
Philip Naudus
Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Junior Philip Naudus, who has a double major in physics and math, says he is “extremely excited” about being Mason’s first Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship winner.

The federally funded Goldwater Foundation awards undergraduate scholarships to exceptional students who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

Erica Porter, a chemistry major with a biochemistry concentration, received an Honorable Mention from the Goldwater Foundation this year.

Naudus was nominated for the Goldwater scholarship by Indubala Satija, professor of physics and astronomy. Naudus says he put a lot of effort into the nomination application and had high hopes, but realistically did not think he would be chosen.

However, Deirdre Moloney, director of fellowships and the Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program, supported him throughout the process and gave him the confidence to continue pursuing the scholarship.

“Dr. Moloney consistently scheduled appointments with me to review the latest drafts of my application essays, keeping me from giving up and encouraging me to continue revising,” says Naudus.

After being approved by Mason to compete nationally, his current mentor Karen Sauer, associate professor of physics and astronomy, helped him with what he says was his most daunting task: writing a two-page essay on a problem within his field and how he intended to pursue research to solve this problem.

“Dr. Sauer provided invaluable feedback, which transformed my initial draft into a competitive essay,” says Naudus.

Naudus has undertaken substantial research during his academic career. As an undergraduate apprentice, he worked with mentor Nathalia Peixoto, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, on the project, “Automated Detection of Sleep Apnea.”

He also worked with Satija on the project, “Symmetry-Breaking and Symmetry-Restoring Dynamics of a Mixture of Bose-Einstein Condensates in a Double Well,” which entailed theoretical research of a quantum mechanical system.

Currently, Naudus is working with Sauer on the ongoing project, “Building and Pushing to Its Noise-Limit a Subfemtotesla Radio-Frequency Atomic Magnetometer for Detection of Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance Signals.”

“We are building an extremely sensitive magnetometer, which is a device that measures radio-frequency magnetic fields. We are using it to study fields at the frequency of ammonium nitrate—the explosive used in the Oklahoma City bombing,” explains Naudus.

Naudus, who was home schooled and is from Fairfax, Va., has also worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, plays trumpet for Mason’s Pep Band, sings bass for the University Chorale, volunteers in the community and is active in other campus organizations.

Write to at