A future railroad systems engineer receives Goldwater Scholarship

Goldwater Scholarship recipient Joanna Moody '14.

Goldwater Scholarship recipient Joanna Moody ’14.

A Bates College student aiming to become a railroad systems engineer has received a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship to support her studies.

A sophomore, Joanna Moody of Charlottesville, Va., is triple-majoring in physics, math and Japanese. Moody has spent the current academic year at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan.

The scholarship program honoring the late Sen. Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Moody is one of 282 U.S. students to receive a Goldwater Scholarship for the 2012–13 academic year. The one- and two-year scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

A second Bates student, Daniel Peach of Madison, Ala., received an honorable mention from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. Peach, a junior mathematics and philosophy major at Bates, plans to conduct research in numerical analysis and algorithm design while teaching at the graduate-school level.

Moody intends to earn a doctorate in systems engineering after she graduates from Bates, with the longer-term goal of a career in railroad traffic control technology.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is recognition of my efforts and ambitions,” says Moody. “It’s a green light that affirms that I should continue to study in pursuit of my career dreams despite the many obstacles that I may face along the way.”

Moody has studied Japanese language and culture, as well as business and economics, during her stay in Japan. Less formally, she has also researched the significance of railroads in Japanese culture. “I’ve focused on how the railroad historically was a symbol of Japanese modernization, and how today it remains an integral part of the social network of Japan,” says Moody, a rail fan whose train travels in Japan have been as much for enjoyment as research.

“I’m interested in comparing this train-oriented society with the car-oriented society of America,” she says. “I’ve always preferred the feeling of trains over other forms of transportation, but as I’ve learned more about it, I’ve realized that it’s a shame that more Americans don’t utilize the railroad for environmental and economic reasons as well.”

In her first two years at Bates, Moody’s activities included participation in the physics lab of assistant professor Nathan Lundblad, who researches atomic behavior at ultralow temperatures. Moody’s contributions included computer programming and hands-on work with experimental apparatus, including lasers and vacuum chambers.

“I chose Bates because I wanted an academically rigorous, well-rounded liberal arts education in a small school where I could have strong relationships with my professors,” Moody says.

But she has found, in addition, that Bates “has been flexible in accommodating my rather unusual course of study at the school,” including approving her triple major and allowing her to pursue studies in Japan.

“I’m very grateful for this flexibility and the control it gives me over what I chose to study.”

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency. Since its first award in 1989, it has bestowed more than 6,200 scholarships worth approximately $39 million.