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Nicholas Boyer stands in front of the Old Well.
Nicholas Boyer (photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Nicholas Boyer, a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill double majoring in chemistry and computer science in the College of Arts and Sciences, was selected to receive a 2024 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Boyer has already received several awards including the James H. Maguire Memorial Award and the Undergraduate Physical Chemistry Award at Carolina.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater. The scholarship is given to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. The scholarship is considered one of the most prestigious national undergraduate scholarships, and it is awarded annually to approximately 450 students.

Boyer is from Horse Shoe, North Carolina, and graduated from the North Carolina School of Sciences and Mathematics. He has been a member of the Kanai research group since he arrived at Carolina in 2021 because of his strong interest in computational science and quantum mechanics. As a Kanai research group member, Boyer has been investigating how the dynamics of electrons in molecules and materials could be efficiently simulated by describing the quantum dynamics via the moments of increasing orders of the particle density. The novel formalism, termed moment propagation theory, was recently published in the Journal of Chemical Physics with Boyer as the lead author, “Theory of Moment Propagation for Quantum Dynamics in Single-Particle Description”.  He is currently furthering this new theoretical formalism in the context of “first-principles” simulations by using real-time time-dependent density functional theory.

Yosuke Kanai, a professor of chemistry and an adjunct professor of physics and astronomy, says that Boyer is “not only scientifically extremely talented but also very driven. Because he loves doing research so much, I often remind him of the importance of academic coursework as an undergraduate student. At the same time, his GPA shows that he is also doing quite well academically.” Boyer plans to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical/computational chemistry after graduating from Carolina.

Boyer has also been active beyond academic coursework and research. He was the co-president of the Carolina Science Olympiad this year, organizing the invitational event at Carolina that more than 30 high schools and over 500 students participated in. This event involved months of planning and coordination with over 100 volunteers to ensure its success. His involvement in the Science Olympiad during middle and high school ignited his passion for science, motivating him to give back by fostering the scientific aspirations of high school students through this competition. His passion for science has also led him to participate in and organize other activities including Sci-athon, Hack NC and Carolina Scientific at UNC.

Boyer is Carolina’s 53rd Goldwater Scholar. A select number of UNC students are nominated for the national competition each year by the Goldwater Campus Committee chaired by Frank Leibfarth. The nomination and application processes are administered on campus by the Office of Distinguished Scholarships.

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