UMass Boston

College of Science and Mathematics Student Named a Goldwater Scholar

04/12/2023| Sandra Mason

Kenji Maeda, a second-year engineering physics major, was named a 2023 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar. This is the fifth consecutive year that a UMass Boston student has been selected to receive the esteemed award, and the third time in the last five years that a student from the Physics Department has been chosen.

“ We are extremely proud of Kenji Maeda and of the support for research excellence that is a hallmark of the Physics Department. ”

The Goldwater Scholarship Program is designed to foster and encourage outstanding college sophomores and juniors to pursue research careers in mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering. Undergraduate students who receive the award demonstrate a passion for doing research and also exhibit the creative spark that can lead to becoming leaders in their fields.

“We are extremely proud of Kenji Maeda and also of the support for research excellence that is a hallmark of the UMass Boston Physics Department,” said Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco. “The Goldwater Scholarship is considered the preeminent scholarship in the nation for undergraduates planning to pursue PhDs in science and mathematics fields. This is a highly impressive achievement.”

Maeda’s path in quantum physics began last summer when he noticed a poster advertising Assistant Professor of Physics Akira Sone’s Quantum Information course. He took the class, along with a class on the fundamentals of quantum physics with Professor and Physics Department Chair Rahul Kulkarni. Mid-semester, Sone invited Maeda to join his quantum thermodynamics research team and encouraged him to develop a strong foundation by reading a wide range of literature on quantum physics.

“Kenji is a remarkable student,” Sone said. “Earning a Goldwater scholarship is a result of his dedication to his work in quantum information theory, his love and intuition for physics, and his exceptional mathematical skill in analytics and numerics.

“Our faculty are humbled and thrilled that the rigorous research in quantum physics taking place at UMass Boston provides opportunities and support for students to achieve the highest levels of academic excellence and sets them up for exciting futures in the field.”

Maeda explained he is working on a project about quantum thermodynamics to explain the laws of thermodynamics from the perspective of quantum information science.

“In our research group, we are examining how the application of our special measurement scheme on quantum systems would yield informative results compared to using other measurement schemes,” Maeda said.

He is looking forward to taking advanced physics courses and upper-level engineering courses during his junior and senior years––especially Quantum Information II & IV. Once he completes his undergraduate degree, he intends to pursue a PhD in physics.

“In the future, I would like to contribute to the development of quantum-related technology such as quantum computer, sensing, and communication,” Maeda said.

Deeply appreciative of the inspiration, guidance, and spirit of collaboration from faculty such as Sone and Kulkarni, along with Assistant Professor Sumientra Rampersad, and Assistant Professor Olga Goulko, and his classmates and physics graduate students, Maeda said, “I have earned this honor with everyone.”

Goldwater scholarships are awarded annually by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, an organization established by Congress in 1986 to honor the lifetime work of the late Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. From an estimated pool of over 5,000 college sophomores and juniors, 1,267 natural science, engineering and mathematics students were nominated by 427 academic institutions to compete for the 2023 Goldwater scholarships. This year, 413 scholarships were awarded.