Ian Freeman, a junior majoring in physics, computational physics, and mathematics at Illinois State University, has been named a 2022-2023 Barry Goldwater Scholar. The award is one of the most prestigious national scholarships in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, known as STEM. 

Freeman, who is from Plainfield, Illinois, hopes to earn a Ph.D. in astrophysics. He intends to teach at the collegiate level and conduct computational research on the structures of stars.  

“I wouldn’t have made it to this point in my education without the support of friends, family, and advisors, and this is an acknowledgement of the countless hours I’ve put in to arrive here,” said Freeman, who has presented at multiple national conferences and co-authored three papers for academic journals.  

Freeman is part of the Honors Program at Illinois State. He is a teaching assistant in the Department of Physics, a resident assistant for the math living and learning community, and a section leader in the Big Red Marching Machine. Freeman is a member of the ISU Physics Club as well as the national physics honors society, Sigma Pi Sigma, and the American Physical Society. He held a Summer 2021 Office of Student Research grant with the Faculty-mentored, Intensive Research Experience (FIREbird) program, under the direction of Assistant Professor of Physics Matt Caplan. 

headshot of Matt Caplan
Dr. Matthew Caplan

“These aren’t the kind of achievements that come quick or easy,” said Caplan. “Ian is the most persistent and hardworking young scientist I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition.” 

Freeman will spend the summer working with the Northwestern University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics under a National Science Foundation-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates program. 

More than 1,200 students studying natural science, engineering and mathematics were nominated by academic institutions nationwide to compete for the 2022 Goldwater scholarships. Freeman is one of the 417 chosen. Many of the scholars have published their research in leading professional journals and have presented their work at professional society conferences. 

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater.