Two USNA midshipmen named recipients of Barry Goldwater Scholarship


Midshipman 2nd Class (Junior) Kara Kniezewski (L) and Midshipman Anders Gulbrandson (R)

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 Barry Scholars Goldwater 2022. This year, more than 5,000 applicants competed for one of the 417 scholarships awarded.

Gulbrandson graduated from Orono High School. At the Naval Academy, he is a Chemistry Major, Montor Leadership Scholar, and Trident Scholar in the Naval Academy Class of 2023. Under the direction of Cmdr. Dave Durkin and Dr. Paul Trulove, Gulbrandson’s research focuses primarily on nano-modified biopolymer composite materials, nanoparticle synthesis and applications, and ionic liquids. He has co-authored articles on his research in the Journal of Macromolecular Materials and Engineering and the Journal of Ionic Liquids. Gulbrandson also conducted research on electrochemical sensors at Vanderbilt University under Dr. David Cliffel. This summer, he plans to join a research group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory to focus on advanced laser design.

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 wilderness of Boundary Waters Canoe Area 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 ultimately 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).

Knezewski is a graduate of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. At the Naval Academy, she majored in astrophysics and 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. Knezewski’s research focuses on heliophysics, the study of the sun, and so far she has focused on post-eruption coronal rain, which occurs after a solar flare when plasma rises from magnetic loops. newly reconnected, then falls back into the photosphere as the plasma cools and condenses. His work on this subject began during an internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center under the supervision of Dr. Emily Mason. Knezewski co-wrote an article on the subject which is pending publication. Knezewski also co-authored a paper on his work on quasar image reduction under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Morgan.

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At the Naval Academy, Knezewski is the current female representative for the USNA Marathon Team and has been chosen as next year’s team president. She recently qualified for the Boston Marathon, which she will run this month. Knezewski was selected by her peers to receive the Navy-Marine Corps Association Leadership Award for her exemplary embodiment of the highest ideals of leadership.

Knezewski hopes to join the naval aviation community upon graduation and commissioning, where she intends to use her work in heliophysics to help protect Airmen from health hazards in the solar environment. She hopes to eventually earn her doctorate and use her experience in the Navy to inform her research.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Educational Excellence Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to Senator Barry Goldwater. The foundation offers scholarships to sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The Goldwater Foundation seeks to ensure that the United States produces the number of highly skilled professionals the nation needs to succeed in these critical fields and maintain its global competitiveness and security.

The US Naval Academy was founded in 1845 and is a prestigious four-year service academy that prepares midshipmen morally, mentally, and physically to become professional officers in the naval service. More than 4,400 men and women representing every state in the United States and several foreign countries make up the student body, known as the Brigade of Midshipmen. U.S. News and World Report recognized the Naval Academy as one of the top five undergraduate engineering schools and one of the top 20 liberal arts schools. Midshipmen learn from military and civilian instructors and participate in intercollegiate sports and extracurricular activities. They also study topics such as leadership, ethics, small arms, drill, seamanship and navigation, tactics, naval engineering and weapons, cybersecurity, and military law. Upon graduation, midshipmen earn a Bachelor of Science degree in a choice of 25 different subjects and pursue at least five years of exciting and rewarding service as commissioned officers in the US Navy or US Marine Corps.

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