Gary Hoppenworth, a computer science and mathematics major, recently received the Goldwater Scholarship. Gary's future plans include pursuing computer science research while obtaining his Ph.D.

What does winning the Goldwater Scholarship mean to you?

Winning the Goldwater Scholarship was very exciting! This quarantine has been pretty monotonous for me, so hearing this good news was a welcome change. Being recognized with the Goldwater Scholarship will help when I apply to graduate school and apply for graduate fellowships. In graduate school I hope to further pursue my interest in complexity theory and particularly fine-grained complexity.

What advice would you give for those seeking the Goldwater Scholarship?

Keep pursuing research and ideas that excite you! I think undergrad is the time to explore and find what you like. If you are passionate about your research, it will be reflected in your application.

How did you achieve this scholarship?

The work I have been doing with the UCF string algorithms lab has important applications to bioinformatics as well as theoretical computer science. Biologists collect massive datasets of DNA, and they require very efficient algorithms in order to process this information. In my work, I show that one problem which is of biological interest, the median string problem, is difficult to compute.

With the Air Force Research Laboratory Directorate I help solve problems that are of importance to national security and to the government.

My mentors encouraged me to apply for this scholarship. They also helped guide me during my research and encouraged me to pursued other opportunities as well.

What activity do you enjoy outside of academics?

I recently read Dune. I enjoyed the ecological message and found the political intrigue thrilling!

What is your long-term goal, and how will this award help you get there?

[In the] long term, I want to do research. That is really the only thing that is set in stone for me. The Goldwater Scholarship will help me continue to pursue computer science research during my Ph.D. and afterwards.