Aaron Halvorsen, a junior psychology and biological sciences major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, has been awarded a Goldwater scholarship for his cognitive neuroscience research for the 2018-19 academic year.
A federally endowed agency, the Goldwater Foundation was established in 1986 in honor of Sen. Barry Goldwater. The foundation provides up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses to about 200 college sophomores and juniors nationwide in hopes of supporting future scientists, mathematicians and engineers. Two-hundred-eleven Goldwater Scholars were selected this year on academic merit from a field of about 1,300 applicants.
A native of Syracuse, Nebraska, Halvorsen has worked in a number of research labs on campus, but primarily with Matthew Johnson, assistant professor of psychology, and Cheng Lim, postdoctoral research associate in psychology. He has also worked with Michael Dodd, associate professor of psychology, and Dennis Molfese, Thompson Professor of Psychology.
Halvorsen’s research has centered on behavioral investigations of eye-tracking, electroencephalography (EEG) testing for auditory stimulus, and statistical learning using both EEG and fMRI imaging. He has been engaged in undergraduate research for more than two years. He is currently working on his senior Honors thesis on visual statistical learning under Johnson and Lim.
Halvorsen’s plans include pursuing a doctoral degree in cognitive neuroscience and continuing to conduct brain research in a private or academic setting, investigating the treatment and prevention of brain diseases and injuries.
Lauren Lesiak, a chemistry major from Lincoln, and Mark Nail, a mechanical engineering major from Leawood, Kansas, received honorable mention recognition for the Goldwater scholarship. Both can reapply next year. Of the four applications that the university was allowed to submit, three students were recognized.
Lesiak has worked in the lab of Clifford Stains, assistant professor of chemistry, since she was a student at Lincoln High School. She plans to pursue a doctorate in chemistry, with aspirations to teach and conduct research in chemical biology at a research university.
As a student in the Jeffrey S. Raikes School of Computer Science and Management, Nail has researched drones with Sebastian Elbaum, Bessey Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, and Carrick Detweiler, associate professor of computer science and engineering. That research has focused on depositing sensors underground using an unmanned aerial vehicle. Nail plans to pursue a doctorate in mechanical engineering and conduct research in robotics at a corporate or university laboratory.