Midshipman 2nd Class (junior) Anders Gulbrandson, 21, of Orono, Minnesota, and Midshipman 2nd Class (junior) Kara Kniezewski, 21, of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, were recently selected as 2022 Barry Goldwater Scholars. This year, more than 5,000 candidates competed for one of the 417 scholarships awarded.
Gulbrandson is an Orono High School graduate. At the Naval Academy, he is a chemistry major, a Montor Leadership Scholar, and a Trident Scholar in the Naval Academy’s Class of 2023. Under the guidance of Cmdr. Dave Durkin and Dr. Paul Trulove, Gulbrandson’s research primarily involves nano-modified biopolymer composite materials, nanoparticle synthesis and applications, and ionic liquids. He has co-authored articles about his research in the Journal of Macromolecular Materials and Engineering and the Journal of Ionic Liquids. Gulbrandson has also conducted electrochemical sensor research at Vanderbilt University under the direction of Dr. David Cliffel. This summer, he plans to join a research group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory to focus on designing advanced lasers.
Outside of the classroom, Gulbrandson is a member of the Navy Hockey Team. He recently worked as a guide and interpreter for the Boy Scouts of America on a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as part of the Naval Academy-sponsored Northern Tier training program.
Gulbrandson hopes to be selected early to join the submarine community after graduation and commissioning. He eventually aims to earn his doctorate in chemistry and then conduct research for an advanced government research institution or program, such as MIT Lincoln Laboratory or DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Kniezewski is a Springside Chestnut Hill Academy graduate. At the Naval Academy, she is an astrophysics major and has earned a place on the Superintendent’s List for three consecutive years, the highest level of recognition for success in academics, conduct, military performance, and physical readiness at the Naval Academy. Kniezewski’s research is concentrated in heliophysics, the study of the sun, and her focus thus far has been on post-flare coronal rain, which occurs after a solar flare when plasma travels up newly reconnected magnetic loops and then falls back down to the photosphere when the plasma cools and condenses. Her work on this topic began during an internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center under Dr. Emily Mason. Kniezewski co-authored a paper on the subject that is awaiting publication. Kniezewski also co-authored a paper about her work on image reduction of quasars under Dr. Christopher Morgan.
At the Naval Academy, Kniezewski is the current women’s representative for the USNA Marathon Team and has been selected as next year’s team president. She recently qualified for the Boston Marathon, which she will run this month. Kniezewski was selected by her peers to receive the Navy-Marine Corps Association Leadership Award for her exemplary embodiment of the highest ideals of leadership.
Kniezewski hopes to join the naval aviation community after graduation and commissioning, where she intends to use her work in heliophysics to help protect aviators from health risks in the solar environment. She eventually hopes to earn her doctorate and use her experience in the Navy to inform her research.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to Senator Barry Goldwater. The foundation provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The Goldwater Foundation seeks to ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly-qualified professionals the Nation needs to succeed in these critical fields and maintain its global competitiveness and security.
The U.S. Naval Academy was founded in 1845 and is a prestigious four-year service academy that prepares midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically to be professional officers in the naval service. More than 4,400 men and women representing every state in the U.S. and several foreign countries make up the student body, known as the Brigade of Midshipmen. U.S. News and World Report has recognized the Naval Academy as a top-five undergraduate engineering school and a top 20 best liberal arts college. Midshipmen learn from military and civilian instructors and participate in intercollegiate varsity sports and extracurricular activities. They also study subjects such as leadership, ethics, small arms, drill, seamanship and navigation, tactics, naval engineering and weapons, cyber security, and military law. Upon graduation, midshipmen earn a Bachelor of Science degree in a choice of 25 different subject majors and go on to serve at least five years of exciting and rewarding service as commissioned officers in the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps.