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Aid and Awards

With the exception of the Forman Summer Research Fellowship, all eligible students are considered for all of the awards below; applications are not required.  See each award for considerations.

Jones Scholarship

The scholarship was established in 1985 by Professor Emeritus Ernest A. Jones; his two sons, Dr. Phillip R. Jones and Dr. Bruce E. Jones; and Mary Slack. Professor Jones taught physics and astronomy at Vanderbilt from 1951 to 1985. The scholarship aims to increase the number of students majoring in physics and astronomy and to strengthen the programs. It may be awarded to a freshman or sophomore who indicates an interest in majoring in physics or physics/astronomy or to a junior or senior who has declared a major in physics or physics/astronomy. Recipients receive a financial award.

The criteria for this award, established by the Undergraduate Program Committee and in order of importance, are:

  • Emphasis on encouraging students to major in physics
  • Current freshman or sophomore
  • GPA in technical courses, particularly physics
  • Overall GPA
  • Involvement in research

All students in P1911 or P2255 will automatically be considered; students in other courses will be considered if nominated by a member of the physics faculty. The UPC should have reasonable confidence that the recipient intends to major in physics.

2023 Recipients

  • Amanda Marilena Maeglin
  • Umar Sohail Qureshi
  • Matthew Lu

2022 - Brian R. Campe, Nolan A. McPhaul, Anthony C. Muñiz

2021 - Matthew David Beutel, Tejas J. Ogale

2020 - Henry Huang, Hannah Anderson

2019 -  Arjun Kerthi, Wenze Tan

2018 - Oishik Ray, Timothy Zaklama, Thomas Skacel (f), Bellatrix Li (f), Anup Challa (f)

2017 - Yuhan Guo

2016 - David Zhang (f)

2015 - Joshua Palmer and Paul Register

2014 - Cameron Togrye, Brad Kovanda, and Ziyuan Chen

2013 – Elliot Scher, Isabelle Pelaschier, Dylan Teague (f), Kirk Huang (f)

2012 – Jeffrey Ray Swaney, Jr., and Collin Brice Erickson

2011 – Megan Twomey and Jyotirmoy Mandal (f)

2010 - Justin Menestrina and Tyler Whittle

2009 - Richard Bisson, Jonathan Kohler, Evan McQuarrie

2008 - Andrew Levin

2007 - Julie Managan and Calen Henderson

2006 - Brittany Rohrman (f)

2005 - Daniela Stefan and John Jumper

2004 - Parker Grey (f)

2003 - Jonathan Stricker

2002 - Micky Bary and Adam Bryant

2001 - Kyle Cochran & Jonathan Newport

2000 - Daniel Bowles (f)

1999 - Matthew Deeley (f) and Wendy Williams

1998 - Elisabeth Ambrose

f = first-year student

William A. and Nancy F. McMinn Honor Scholarship in the Natural Sciences

The scholarship was established in 1993 by Mr. William A. McMinn, Jr., and his wife, Nancy, to benefit outstanding students majoring in natural sciences. All eligible students will be considered for this award; there is no application involved.

2022 Recipients

  • Kasie Azie
  • Kaitlyn Lane
  • Olivia Ward

2021 - Yetm Aklilu

Guy and Rebecca Forman Scholarship

In 1986, Professor Guy Forman and his wife Rebecca Forman provided the initial endowment to establish an award at Vanderbilt University to be given annually to recognize outstanding accomplishments in the teaching of physics at the undergraduate level. In addition, this endowment can be used to fund scholarships for undergraduate physics students.  All eligible students will be considered for this award; there is no application involved.

2023 Recipients

  • Patrick Hu
  • Sean Collins
  • Marcus Kamen

2022 - Patrick Hu, Sean Collins, Brennan Ferrington

Forman Summer Research Fellowships

The Forman Summer Research Fellowships provide financial support to a limited number of physics majors undertaking research with a faculty mentor over the summer.  These fellowships require a short application from the student.  A call for applications will be sent out in the spring, and completed applications should be forwarded to the Director for Undergraduate Studies by the due date given in the call.

There is no citizenship requirement for this funding, but the fellowships will be targeted toward students who do not have other research support (e.g., VUSRP) for the summer.

Applications should include the following information:

  • Your name
  • The title of your proposed summer project
  • A one-page summary of your planned research for the summer
  • A brief note from your research advisor confirming the supervision of your project

Yaqiong Xu Best Publication

The Yaqiong Xu Best Publication award is for the most outstanding papers or conference presentations.  All eligible students will be considered for this award; there is no application involved.

2023 Recipient


Chenhang ‘Henry’ Huang, Two electrons in harmonic confinement coupled to light in a cavity, C Huang, A Ahrens, M Beutel, K Varga – Physical Review B, 2021.

Matthew Beutel, Deformed explicitly correlated Gaussians, M Beutel, A Ahrens, C Huang, Y Suzuki, K Varga – The Journal of Chemical Physics, 2021.


Cameron Elaine Norton, “The Cosmological evolution of ultralight axionlike scalar fields”, Phys. Rev. D 103, 023515 (2021)

Samantha Nicole Bianco, “Nemesis: Exoplanet Transit Survey Of Nearby M-Dwarfs In Tess Ffis I”, The Astronomical Journal, Volume 161, Number 5

Luke Bhan, “Simulation of photo-electron spectrum and electron scattering by dual time propagation”, Journal of Chemical Physics 154, 114110 (2021)


Underwood Award

Newton Underwood, who taught physics from 1936 until 1950, established this award in 1961 to honor the memory of his father, Judge Emory Marvin Underwood. A graduate in the class of 1900, he received a law degree in 1902 and served on the Vanderbilt University Board of Trust from 1922 until his death in 1960. In establishing this award, Newton Underwood sought to recognize the most deserving and promising graduating senior or graduate student majoring in physics.

The criteria for this award, as established by the Undergraduate Program Committee and in order of importance, are:

  • Graduating senior
  • GPA in technical courses
  • Overall GPA
  • Involvement in research
  • Department service (office in SPS, etc.)

All eligible students will be considered for this award; there is no application involved.

2023 recipients

  • Alexander James Ahrens
  • Matthew David Beutel
  • Chenhang Huang

2022 - Hannah Anderson, Luke Bhan, Elijah Sheridan

2021 - Arjun Balaji Keerthi, James Reed Taylor, Cameron Elaine Norton

2020 - Keefer Rowan, Tim Zaklama, Oishik Ray

2019 - David Zhang, XJ Xu, 

2018 - Kaiwen Gui, Teng Teng, Andrew Thibeault

2017 - Zachary Bednarke

2016 - Dylan Teague and Tennessee Joyce

2015 - Elliot Scher and Isabelle Pelaschier

2014 - Collin Erickson, Jyotirmoy Mandal, Jeffrey Swaney, Jr.

2013 - Hunter Burroughs, Blake Dewey & Megan Twomey

2012 - Justin Lee Menestrina and Benjamin Keith Wyatt

2011 - Evan MacQuarrie, Jonathan Kohler, Liwei Jiang

2010 - Patrick Diggins & Ben Fenker

2009 - Brittany Rohrman & Julie Managan

2008 - Kevin Emmett, Peter Scully & Charlie Wright

2007 - John Jumper

2006 - Theodor Brasoveanu, Kevin Givens & David Mashburn

2005 - Jonathan Stricker

2004 - Mikey Bary & Adam Bryant

2003 - Jonathan Newport

2002 - Lisa Whitehead & Jessica Hodges

2001 - Damon Farmer

2000 - Richard Helms

1999 - Ann Pitruzello & Andrew Puckett

1998 - David Latimer & Michael Dorris

1997 - Rebecca Dodder & Mark Sales

1996 - Edward Keyes

Larry Ross Cathey Award

Endowed in 1974 in memory of Larry Ross Cathey, BA’66, MA’68, Ph.D. University of Santa Cruz, 1974. It is awarded to an outstanding undergraduate student who has completed the astronomy minor and or a student who has shown evidence of interest and enthusiasm for astronomy. Traditionally this award has been given to a graduating senior. Recipients are provided a financial award.

The criteria for this award, established by the Undergraduate Program Committee and in order of importance, are:

  • Completion of (or in the process of completing) the astronomy minor or a physics major who will have completed at least three courses in astronomy. These must be 3- or 4-credit hour courses, and at least one of these must be at the 2000 level. In exceptional circumstances, a student who does not meet the above two criteria may be considered for the award. This student must have taken a substantial number of the astronomy course offerings realistically available to him or her, and in any event it must equal or exceed four 3-credit hour courses. Additionally, the student who receives the award without meeting either of the first two criteria must have shown some evidence of interest and enthusiasm for astronomy above and beyond coursework, sufficient to recommend him or her to the committee for this award.
  • GPA in physics and astronomy
  • Involvement in research

All eligible students will be considered for this award; there is no application involved.

2023 Recipients

  • Nolan Alexan McPhaul
  • Holly Krynicki
  • Alexandra Michelle Frymire

2022 - Katharine Cella, Qiaohong ‘Joanna’ Wang

2021 - Samantha Bianco

2020 - Justin Stevens

2019 - none

2018 - Gordon Kiesling (NROTC)

2017 - James Johnson (Ph.D. program, Ohiso State, Astronomy)

2016 - Jack Lubin (consultant, Capital One Bank; Ph.D. UC Irvine)

2015 - Emily Rolen (consultant, Capital One Bank)

2014 - none

2013 - Ben Wibking (Ph.D. program, Ohio State, Astronomy)

2012 - Alisha Kundert [Ph.D. program, Univ. Wisconsin, Astronomy]

2011 - Rebecca Rattray [Ph.D. Program, Univ. Denver, Astronomy]

2010 - Katie Robins [Ph.D. Program, Carnegie Mellon, Physics]

2009 - Calen Henderson [Ph.D. Program, Ohio State, Astronomy]

2008 - Anders Jensen [Ph.D. Program, Penn State, Meteorology]

2007 - James Ovelman

2006 - Andrew Collazzi [Ph.D. Program, LSU, Astronomy]

2005 - Nahved Mahmud [Ph.D. Program, WUSTL, Physics]

2004 - James Schlaerth [Ph.D. program, Colorado, Astronomy]

2003 - Jonathan David Shaub

2002 - Zuzana Melherova

2001 - Wendy Williams [Law School, Univ. Virginia]

2000 - Elisabeth B. Ambrose [MS, Texas, Astronomy; faculty, UNC Charlotte]

1999 - Wilson Andrew Tillotson

1998 - Michael Dorris [Ph.D. Program, Wisconsin, Astronomy]

1997 - none

199 - none

1995 - Evan Julian Gnam

1994 - Todd Keene Timberlake (Ph.D., Physics, U Texas)

1993 - Lionel Jacob Crews (Ph.D. Physics, Vanderbilt)

1992 - Robert Charles Berrington

1991 - Elin Donice Hanson

1990 - none

1989 - none

1988 - Richard Farley Reese, Jr.