Iris Cong, a junior studying computer science at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named a 2016 Goldwater Scholar by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The award goes to undergraduates who have demonstrated outstanding potential and intend to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

Cong’s research interests include quantum computing and quantum machine-learning algorithms. While serving a summer internship at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences at Tsinghua University in Beijing last year, she developed an algorithm to exponentially speed up the performance of some machine applications on quantum computing platforms such as feature extraction and classification.

Cong’s research was performed under the guidance of Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, winner of the 2000 A.M. Turing Award for excellence in computer science; and Luming Duan, the Enrico Fermi Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

The 2016 Goldwater Scholarship comes with a grant of up to $7,500 for students to use toward academic expenses in the 2016-17 academic year. Cong is one of 252 recipients of the scholarship in 2016 and the only recipient from UCLA. In the past 10 years,  eight other UCLA students have won the Goldwater Scholarship, including two from UCLA Engineering.

The scholarship, named in memory of the longtime senator from Arizona Barry Goldwater, is given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation to foster and encourage excellence in science and mathematics.

This year, Cong has also been the recipient of the 2016 HSSEAS Boeing Scholarship in Computer Science. She also currently serves as a high school instructor at UCLA’s weekly math circle.

*Update. In mid-April, Cong was selected to participate as a young researcher at the 2016 Heidelberg Laureate Forum. The one-week event, which takes place this fall in Germany, connects 200 participants selected from a large worldwide pool of undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral scholars in mathematics and computer science, with pioneers in the fields who have received their most prestigious prizes, including the  ACM A.M. Turing Award and the Fields Medal.