Junior Phillip Marmorino is the first-ever IU South Bend student to be awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a highly esteemed undergraduate scholarship given to the best and brightest STEM students in the country. Marmorino was homeschooled by his mother and father in South Bend, and was one of 211 students named Goldwater Scholars from a field of 1,280 applicants. Marmorino is the only student from all IU campuses to be recognized as a Goldwater Scholar this year.
“This is an honor no other student at IU South Bend has ever attained; it is particularly remarkable given that Phillip is only 16 years old,” said Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair and Professor Gretchen Anderson, who is the Goldwater representative for this campus. “Phillip started academic research at an early age. After significant progress and several research presentations, he achieved this prestigious honor.”
Working with Associate Professor of Mathematics Peter Connor last summer, Marmorino studied the mathematical problem of dividing a cube into smaller cubes. “Famous mathematicians have worked on this problem since the mid- twentieth century,” Marmorino said. The exact upper threshold where a cube that is three or more dimensions can be divided into smaller cubes has not been conclusively proven, Marmorino explained. In his research with Connor, he was able to improve the lower and upper bounds to where the answer can be found. “A lot of it is geometry,” said Marmorino. “Mathematically it becomes more about additive number theory.”
According to Anderson, the application process for the Goldwater Scholarship is on par with writing a graduate research proposal. Using technical language and citing relevant research, the Goldwater Scholarship application requires applicants to explain the importance of their research and why it is innovative. Marmorino credited the advice of his father, Associate Professor of Chemistry Matthew Marmorino, and Anderson with helping him put together an outstanding application.
In addition to his 16th birthday, Marmorino had a lot to celebrate in March. The week before he was named a Goldwater Scholar, his scholarly research paper with Connor was published in the The Journal of Geometry, a peer-reviewed mathematics journal. “This is a big deal,”said Connor.“Phillip distinguished himself with this research project and wrote a paper about his research that is worthy of publication.”
This summer, Marmorino and Connor will collaborate again on another additive number theory research project. Marmorino applied for an IU South Bend Student-Mentor Academic Research Teams (SMART) grant to subsidize his summer research with Connor. “I really enjoy the research. It’s like a treasure hunt,” explained Marmorino. “I pick up and learn a lot of new things along the way and that’s interesting too.” He also appreciates the convenience of being able to think about the problem anytime he chooses without going to a lab.
When he’s not thinking about mathematics problems, Marmorino enjoys composing ragtime piano compositions. “The music theory class I took at IU South Bend helped me a lot with this endeavor,” he said.“It’s very rewarding. I’ve written four ragtime piano compositions, and I hope I can get some published.”
A geology class at IU South Bend spurred Marmorino’s interest in paleontology. During a recent spring break trip to eastern Indiana near Richmond, he enjoyed searching for and finding trillobites, sea lilies, and coral fossils to add to his collection.
In past years, IU South Bend has had two students recognized with an honorable mention bythe BarryM.Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. In 2016, the committee acknowledged chemistry student Christopher Warkentin’s commendable research achievements. Warkentin is pursuing his PhD studies at the University of Minnesota.
In 2017, biochemistry student Michele Costantino’s achievement was also recognized with an honorable mention by the committee. She will be starting her PhD studies in biochemistry at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, where she will be working on self- assembling proteins in nanotechnology.
Marmorino is double majoring in math and physics. After Marmorino earns his undergraduate degrees, he plans to pursue his PhD in mathematics and teach at the university level. He’s grateful for the opportunities he’s had at IU South Bend. “The advantage of a small campus is you get to know everyone really well,” he said.“I know all the math and physics teachers, and they have given me some really good advice and direction.”