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Ethan Lu Selected as Goldwater Scholar

Ethan Lu received a 2021 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a prestigious award that supports students who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, engineering and math. Lu is one of 410 students selected for the scholarship from an applicant pool of over 5,000 sophomores and juniors nationwide.

Lu is pursuing the Mathematical Sciences Honors Degree Program. He takes both undergraduate and graduate level classes and will graduate from Carnegie Mellon in May 2022 with his B.S. and M.S. in mathematical sciences along with a minor in computer science.

At CMU, Lu’s interests have been at the intersection of geometry and computer graphics. Lu is a member of CMU’s Geometry Collective. Headed by Assistant Professor of Computer Science Keenan Crane, the group of researchers study digital geometry processing, which plays a vital role in engineering and scientific discovery and has transformed technologies that impact our everyday lives such as depth cameras and 3D printing.

“I enjoy studying mathematics because of how it can combine both abstractness and practicality, which is something I find really beautiful,” noted Lu.

He’s particularly interested in analysis research because of how it can leverage extremely powerful and advanced theoretical results to solve real-world issues that people care about whether that be in computer graphics and simulation or in fluid dynamics and partial differential equations — all areas Lu has explored in his undergraduate research career.

Working with Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences Ian Tice, Lu recently worked to develop a variational-geometric formulation of the equations of motion for fluids with surfactants. Surfactants, also called surface-active agents, are substances that help reduce surface tension, making them one of the most versatile products in the chemical industry that can act as detergents, wetting agents, foaming agents and more.

Tice noted how adept Lu was with the technical components of the project, which resulted in an article for journal publication.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to not only have my own work acknowledged but also to recognize all the great mentorship and guidance I’ve received at CMU.”

These experiences have shaped Lu’s career plans to earn his Ph.D., during which he hopes to continue his research in analysis and partial differential equations and ultimately pursue a career as a university professor.

Being selected as Goldwater scholar was a huge honor, says Lu.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to not only have my own work acknowledged but also to recognize all the great mentorship and guidance I’ve received at CMU,” he said. “Receiving this scholarship has helped to reaffirm the different academic and professional decisions I’ve made.”

Lu is one of four Carnegie Mellon students to receive the Goldwater Scholarship. CMU is eligible to nominate four students each year to be Goldwater Scholars, and this is the second consecutive year where all four nominated students have been chosen. 

“The Goldwater Scholarship is a superlative award that recognizes high achievement and depth in research. That our four nominees were all selected not once but twice consecutively — in 2020 and 2021 — is remarkable and to be celebrated,” said Brittany Allison, CMU’s assistant director of undergraduate research and national fellowships, and Goldwater campus representative. “This accomplishment signifies the exceptional research and academic talents that our students work so hard to cultivate and serves as a testament to the outstanding mentorship that they receive from the faculty and staff at CMU and beyond.”

The scholarship provides up to $7,500 annually for tuition, fees, books and housing.

■ Emily Payne

Class of 2021 Destinations

Firms that hired more than one member of the class:

bank of america

Doctoral Programs:

Carnegie Mellon University
Computer Science,
Financial Economics

Georgia Tech
Machine Learning

Computer Science

University of Illinois


National University of Singapore

Ohio State University

Princeton University

Purdue University

Rutgers University

University of California – Berkeley

University of California – San Diego

University of North Carolina