Gottwald Center for the Sciences

Two University of Richmond students named Goldwater Scholars

April 2, 2021

Student Experience

Two University of Richmond students have been selected as Goldwater Scholars on the basis of academic merit from a field of nearly 1,300 students nationwide.

The recipients are Nicolas Ferree, a sophomore physics and mathematics double major from Midlothian and Julia Vidlak, a junior chemistry major from Williamsburg. Ferree and Vidlak are also both Richmond Scholars.

“We are so proud of Nic and Julia, who have been recognized among a large, competitive, and talented candidate pool,” said Dana Kuchem, director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships. “The awards highlight both the academic caliber of these students and UR’s commitment to faculty-mentored undergraduate research.”

Ferree, who aspires to become an astronaut, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics and conduct research in cosmology and astrophysics at a NASA research facility. His research mentors are physics professor Ted Bunn and mathematics professor Jim Davis.

Vidlak plans to obtain an M.D.-Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology. She plans to study pediatric cancer treatments as a physician-scientist at an academic medical institution. She is mentored by chemistry professor Miles Johnson, a UR alum who received a Goldwater award when he was an undergraduate.

“Dr. Johnson has encouraged me to think like an independent researcher,” Vidlak said, who also received a Beckman scholarship last year. “I attribute my success to having the opportunity work and learn in the Johnson laboratory.”

Including these awards, UR has had 32 Goldwater Scholars since the program’s inception in 1986.