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Riley Carpenter

Riley Carpenter

Riley Carpenter

Riley Carpenter '25, an engineering physics major, has been selected for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation’s premier undergraduate scholarships for STEM students.

Junior engineering physics major Riley Carpenter ’25, has been selected for the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship, one of the nation’s premier undergraduate scholarships for STEM students with significant research experience and a desire to continue making important research contributions in graduate school and their careers. He is the University’s fourth student to receive this honor in the past five years.

“We are tremendously proud of Riley Carpenter for being selected as a Goldwater Scholar for 2024. This achievement reflects Riley's commitment, hard work, and exceptional talent in engineering physics,” said Daniel Press, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “It also underscores the strong support and outstanding scholarship opportunities available at Santa Clara University, empowering students like Riley to excel and reach their full potential.”

Carpenter, who grew up in Superior, Colo., is among only 438 Goldwater Scholars chosen this year from 1,353 natural science, engineering, and mathematics students nominated by 446 colleges and universities. The Goldwater Scholarship provides up to $7,500 in financial support for students planning to pursue a Ph.D. and a career in STEM research. 

During the summer of 2023, Carpenter worked alongside physics professor Betty A. Young, Ph.D., and researchers at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Nanofabrication Facility to develop dark matter detectors for use in frigid environments. The Goldwater Scholarship will enable him to continue that work this summer where he hopes to take on a larger role in the research.

Young said, "I am thrilled to congratulate Riley on being awarded the Goldwater Scholarship for 2024. His exceptional work has consistently demonstrated his passion for physics research and his dedication to scientific excellence. This distinguished honor is a testament to Riley's tireless effort and talent, and I couldn't be more excited to see him recognized in this way."

Santa Clara University’s engineering physics program emphasizes fundamental aspects of physics essential to understanding and contributing to all technological developments. Santa Clara is one of only 60 colleges and universities in the United States with an engineering physics program.

In addition to his studies, Carpenter is a member of the Chamber Singers and the Society of Physics Students. He enjoys reading fantasy novels and his study of Latin as a classical studies minor has given him a greater appreciation for the many languages Tolkien created for the inhabitants of Middle-earth. After SCU, Carpenter intends to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics and to conduct research in nanofabrication processes, including thin film deposition and characterization, with applications in cryogenic detectors.

Carpenter said that his emphasis on material science is somewhat unique within engineering physics, and he found Santa Clara faculty to be engaging and supportive in helping him design a program that fit his interests.

“I am honored to be recognized as a Goldwater Scholar for my work in materials research and for my potential to be a leader in the field,” said Carpenter. “I am deeply grateful for the invaluable guidance and mentorship provided by Dr. Betty Young, Dr. Dan Ostroff, and Dr. Steve Suljak. I also want to thank The Office of Student Fellowships for helping me apply for this prestigious scholarship.”

About the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation

Established by Congress in 1986, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation recognizes the nation’s top college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Riley Carpenter