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UC Student Named 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar

Brad Theilman, a double biomedical engineering and mathematics major, received the Goldwater Scholarship for his academic achievements and research interests in neurological networks.

Date: 4/23/2012 12:00:00 AM
By: Katy Cosse
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   Brad Theilman, a University of Cincinnati (UC) pre-junior studying biomedical engineering and mathematics, has been awarded a scholarship from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, the premier undergraduate award in mathematics, science and engineering.


Theilman, from Milford, Ohio, is one of 282 Goldwater Scholars this year, selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

The scholarship, which provides up to $7,500 per year for up to two years, is awarded annually to outstanding sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

Theilman credits UC with both exposing him to a wide variety of academic opportunities and helping him narrow his interests into his career goal: becoming a research professor studying how information is processed in biological neural networks.

“Brad is a truly deserving selection for the Goldwater Scholarship,” says UC President Gregory H. Williams. “Our entire UC community shares a sense of pride in his accomplishments, and I am delighted for him in a personal sense. As a student worker for the Office of the President, he has shown me that he is a not only a very smart guy but also a team player and very personable. I have every confidence that he has a very promising future ahead.” 

Theilman, who began third grade with a strong curiosity about how computers work, hopes to use his research career to discover how brains work. 

“Humans can build computers that do wonderful things,” he says, “but the human mind doesn’t work anything like a computer and it can solve problems that no computer can solve. I’m fascinated by the fact that we have no unified idea of how information is processed in the brain.” 

He hopes to use the principles of mathematics and physics to understand how the brain processes and interprets data like sensory information into thoughts and behavior.

At UC, Theilman is a member of the University Honors Program, which comprises the top 5 percent of UC’s undergraduate students. As a freshman, he received a Cincinnatus scholarship award of $80,000 over four years to pay for tuition, room and board, books and fees.

Theilman worked with UC's Office of Nationally Competitive Awards to create and submit his Goldwater application. The office, established in 2011, manages the internal selection process to identify UC’s nominees and help students apply for the most prestigious national and international academic awards.

“I owe a lot to UC for helping me truly discover what I was interested in,” says Theilman. “Through the engineering and honors programs, I had so many opportunities to learn and understand a variety of research areas and motifs that really struck my interest.”

Outside of his academic interests, Theilman serves as president of UC’s amateur radio club and regularly uses amateur radios to talk with people far away from UC’s uptown campus. 

This summer, he will continue to explore his research interests as an undergraduate scholar at Janelia Farm Research Campus, a biomedical research center and part of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Va.