St. Olaf College | News

Two St. Olaf students awarded Goldwater Scholarships

St. Olaf College students Henry Henson ’20 and Jakob Hofstad ’20 have been awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the 2019–20 academic year.

Henson and Hofstad were chosen from a field of 5,000 applicants from across the country to each receive one of the 496 Goldwater Scholarships worth up to $7,500.

The Goldwater Scholarships are awarded each year to students who have shown significant achievement and potential in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. Since 1995, 35 St. Olaf students have received the prestigious award.

Henry Henson ’20 on Russell Glacier in Greenland as part of a study abroad class that focused on glacial ice cores.

Henson is majoring in biology and environmental studies, with concentrations in statistics and data science. Last summer he participated in St. Olaf’s Collaborate Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program, where he worked with Assistant Professor of Physics and Environmental Studies Anne Gothmann on a project that used Mongolian alkaline lake sediments to study uranium partitioning. He later presented his research at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Washington, D.C. Henson continued his research alongside Gothmann this academic year as part of St. Olaf’s Directed Undergraduate Research program, where he engineered an automated experimental system for culturing aquatic organisms.

This summer Henson is conducting research with a program called the Polaris Project, which focuses on fighting the effects of climate change in the Arctic. This experience will involve a research expedition to the Y-K delta in Alaska in order to take samples of permafrost, which he will then analyze.

Henson has taken his interests in environmental studies abroad for two different semesters during his time at St. Olaf. During his sophomore year he participated in St. Olaf’s Environmental Science Semester in New Zealand and Australia, where he spent the semester learning about the ecosystems of each country, the environmental stewardship of indigenous populations, and the modern policies that surround environmental science. Last semester he studied global climate change in Denmark with a class that focused on glacial ice cores, which included a hands-on experience in Greenland.

When on campus, Henson is similarly immersed in a plethora of outdoor activities, including working to preserve the St. Olaf Natural Lands as a student naturalist, working at the St. Olaf climbing wall, serving on the Northfield Climate Action Plan Advisory Board, and working with Manitou Maple — a student group that taps the maple trees in the Natural Lands and makes syrup out of the sap. Henson is also a member of the St. Olaf Chapel Choir.

Jakob Hofstad ’20 in Budapest, world famous for its offerings in mathematics education, as part of an intensive study abroad program.

Hofstad has similarly excelled in St. Olaf’s STEM programming as a physics and mathematics major who participated in St. Olaf’s Science Conversation, a year-long series of three linked courses. In the program, St. Olaf students read primary texts by influential figures along with secondary sources while engaging in seminar-style discussions.

Last summer Hofstad participated in the CURI program, working alongside Assistant Professor for Mathematics David Walmsley on functional analysis. Hofstad presented his research at the Northfield Undergraduate Mathematics Symposium and the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Maryland. He is currently working with Walmsley to publish a paper on their work.

Hofstad is a member of the St. Olaf Problem-Solving Group, and has participated in three different math competitions at the collegiate level. At the North Central Section MAA competition, his team won first place three years in a row and took second place last year. Hofstad has scored in the top 500 nationwide at the Putnam Competition three times, and his team has placed second and third at the Konhauser Problemfest.

This spring, Hofstad took his fascination with mathematics off campus as he participated in the Budapest Semester in Mathematics — an intensive math study abroad program at College International, a Hungarian-based educational institution that focuses on international students studying in Budapest.

While at St. Olaf, Hofstad is also involved with Chapel Choir, Thursday Night Bible Study, Board Game Club, and a campus Christian youth group Canvas U.