Tag Archives: National Scholarships

Announcement of Texas A&M University’s Goldwater Scholarship Winner and Honorable Mention!

By Honors and Undergraduate Research

Two Texas A&M students have been recognized for their outstanding academic achievements in physics and environmental geosciences by the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation. Nick Mondrik, a junior physics major, has been selected as a Goldwater Scholar and Amelie Berger, a junior environmental geoscience major, has been named a Goldwater Honorable Mention.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established in 1986 in honor of US Senator and Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater of Arizona. The Goldwater Scholarship recognizes college students nationwide in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, selecting approximately 300 sophomore and junior students each year. Scholarship recipients are selected based on academic excellence, research experience, and future potential.

Nick Mondrik - Goldwater Scholarship Winner, 2014
Nick Mondrik – Goldwater Scholarship Winner, 2014

Goldwater Scholarship Winner, Nick Mondrik, is from Belton, Texas. He has worked in Dr. Lin Shao’s Ions and Materials Facility in the Nuclear Engineering Department and for Dr. Darren Depoy in the Munnerlyn Astronomical Instrumentation Lab. Currently, he is working on heat transfer simulation for the VIRUS project (Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs) and on preliminary data from the Dark Energy Survey underway in Cerro Tololo, Chile.

Mondrik came across the Goldwater Scholarship when he was looking at websites with information on graduate school profiles and decided to check it out. He wrote his Goldwater essay on looking for outliers and variable stars in the Dark Energy Survey data. The junior physics major said, “The ideal candidate is one who devotes significant time and effort not only in the classroom, but also in the lab where acquired research tools are put into practice.”

On campus, Mondrik is also a Society of Physics Students tutor for underclassmen. He was also a National Merit Scholar coming out of high school. His future pursuits include attending graduate school at Princeton, Caltech, Cambridge, or Harvard for astronomy or astrophysics.

Amelie Berger - Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, 2014
Amelie Berger – Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, 2014

Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention, Amelie Berger, is a junior from Paris, France. Berger is pursuing a degree in Environmental Geoscience with minors in both meteorology and oceanography. She is involved in the Honors Fellows Program and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program where she wrote her thesis on characterizing throughfall heterogeneity in a tropical pre-montane cloud forest in Costa Rica.

Berger has conducted research with the Oceanography department, the Geosciences department, and as an REU Intern in Costa Rica. She is a member of the American Association of Geographers, the Environmental Issues Committee, and a volunteer at the Oceanography Institute of Paris. In the future, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree and PhD. in climate science and sustainability, and to conduct research and teach at the university level.

Texas A&M Honors and Undergraduate Research commends the outstanding achievements of Nick Mondrik and Amelie Berger. All of their hard work continues to pay off!

Congratulations to the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Nominees!

By Hayley Cox

Four Texas A&M University students have been nominated for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program were established in 1986 in honor of US Senator and republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater of Arizona. The Goldwater Scholarship recognizes college students nationwide in the science, mathematics, and engineering fields, selecting approximately 300 junior and senior students each year. Scholarship recipients are selected based on a criteria composed of reference letters, personal essays, and research experience. Universities can nominate up to four students for the Goldwater Scholarship per academic year.

Jack Reid
Jack Reid

2014 Goldwater nominee, Jack Reid ’15, is a junior mechanical engineering and philosophy student from Austin, Texas. Reid was recommended by Honors and Undergraduate Research’s (HUR) Jamaica Pouncy and was also nominated during his sophomore year after he became a University Scholar. He wrote his research proposal about non-thermal plasma research under Dr. David Stack and Dr. Maria King, and this proposal was then reviewed a national committee. In Reid’s words, the committee is looking for aptitude, along with a “genuine interest in research and a drive to follow through on it.”

Reid is a member of the weekly microbiology news program Invisible Jungle, a local project lead for Engineer Without Borders, and practices a form of martial arts called Aikido. Upon completion of his undergraduate career, Reid plans to attend graduate school with a technical focus. He said that after a Master’s degree in technical research, he intends to pursue a PhD. But as a junior, he hasn’t narrowed down the remainder of his future plans.

If selected as a 2014 Goldwater Scholarship recipient, Reid said the first word to come to mind would be “vindication.” He said, “It would be a wonderful confirmation that I am doing something right… The best part would just be knowing that I am a Goldwater Scholar.” In addition to the Goldwater Scholarship, Reid just submitted his application for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation nomination, in which he will find out if he continues later this month.

Nick Mondrik
Nick Mondrik

Another Goldwater nominee, Nick Mondrik, is a junior physics student from Belton, Texas. He has worked in Dr. Lin Shao’s Ions and Materials Facility in the Nuclear Engineering Department and for Dr. Darren Depoy in the Munnerlyn Astronomical Instrumentation Lab. Currently, he is working on heat transfer simulation for the VIRUS project (Visible Integral-Field Replicable Unit Spectrographs) and on preliminary data from the Dark Energy Survey underway in Cerro Tololo, Chile.

Mondrik came across the Goldwater Scholarship when he was looking at websites with information on graduate school profiles and decided to check it out. He wrote his research proposal on looking for outliers and variable stars in the Dark Energy Survey data. The nominee said, “The ideal candidate is one who devotes significant time and effort not only in the classroom, but also in the lab where acquired research tools are put into practice.”

On campus, Mondrik is also a Society of Physics Students tutor for underclassmen. He was also a National Merit Scholar coming out of high school. His future pursuits include attending graduate school at Princeton, Caltech, Cambridge, or Harvard for astronomy or astrophysics. If selected as a 2014 Goldwater Scholarship recipient, Mondrik said the first word to come to mind would be “ecstatic.” He said, “To have all my hard work over these past three years would mean a lot…” Mondrik continued, “It’s one thing to say that hard work is its own reward, but a little recognition goes a long way.”

Amelie Berger
Amelie Berger

Goldwater nominee Amelie Berger is a junior environmental geoscience student from Paris, France. Berger is pursuing a degree in Environmental Geoscience with minors in both meteorology and oceanography. She is involved in the Honors Fellows Program and the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program where she wrote her thesis on characterizing throughfall heterogeneity in a tropical pre-montane cloud forest in Costa Rica.

Berger has conducted research with the Oceanography department, the Geosciences department, and as an REU Intern in Costa Rica. She is a member of the American Association of Geographers, the Environmental Issues Committee, and a volunteer at the Oceanography Institute of Paris. In the future, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree and PhD. in climate science and sustainability, and to conduct research and teach at the university level.

Berger wanted to thank the professors who have contributed to her Goldwater application and now nomination process. She said, I am so thankful for Dr. Frauenfeld, Dr. Cahill, Dr. Thomas, Dr. Biggs, and Dr. Garcia for their supporting letters. I probably would not have even applied without Dr. Biggs telling me I should consider it, and Dr. Frauenfeld selflessly took the time to help me make my application competitive. I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by supportive and dedicated faculty members!”

The final Goldwater nominee, William Linz, is a mathematics student from Temple, Texas. Linz is a University Honors Student and Undergraduate Research Scholar at Texas A&M. Linz has been following national scholarships since his high school academic career and consistently found Goldwater to be an excellent opportunity for math, science, and engineering students like himself. He began with an online application and an expository essay detailing his research work before submitting to a national Goldwater representative.

Linz is also an executive board member of Explorations, the Undergraduate Research Journal of Texas A&M University, and he is President of Aggie Quiz Bowl. In the future, he plans to continue his research work at Texas A&M and to attend graduate school for mathematics. If Linz were to be chosen as a Goldwater Scholar he said he would be extremely pleased. He said, “I would thank all who have helped me up to this point, and I would use the scholarship as an impetus to work even harder in research mathematics.”

Honors and Undergraduate Research is extremely proud of Jack Reid, Nick Mondrik, Amelie Berger, and William Linz for all of their outstand achievements as nominees for the Goldwater Scholarship. We wish them the best of luck through out the remainder of the selection process!

Our Astronaut Scholars are Out of this World!

By Hayley Cox

Last Monday, October 28th, space shuttle astronaut and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana presented students Dillon Amaya and Amanda Couch with the 2013 Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) scholarship during a ceremony at Texas A&M University. Our 2012 ASP scholarship recipient and member of the Class of 2013 Emily Boster was in the audience for the presentation.

Emily Boster - Class of 2013
Emily Boster – Class of 2013
Emily Boster has come full circle in the year since she was selected. Boster was notified of her selection in summer 2012, and Captain James Lovell of Apollo 13 presented her with the Astronaut Scholarship in September 2012.

As Captain Lovell announced last year: “Today, in accordance with its mission to aid the United States in retaining its leadership in science and technology, ASF makes 28 Astronaut Scholarships available to college students who exhibit leadership, imagination and exceptional performance in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These $10,000 scholarships are the highest monetary awards disbursed to undergraduate STEM students based solely on merit in the U.S. To date, the foundation has awarded over $3.7 million in scholarships to deserving students nationwide.” (http://astronautscholarship.org/about/)

2012 Hall of Fame Inductees
2012 Hall of Fame Inductees
Fortunately for Boster, the experience with ASF didn’t end with the presentation last September. Boster was invited to attend a conference at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Cocoa Beach that enables all current and previous ASF scholarship recipients to network among each other. The aerospace engineering student said, “The convention really feels like a big family reunion.” She was present for the Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and loved staying at a hotel with other brilliant ASF scholars and astronauts. Former ASF recipients such as 1980s scholar, Lisa Schott, continue to attend the conference every year.

Boster's group at the Astronaut Scholars Conference
Boster’s group at the Astronaut Scholars Conference
At the four-day conference, around 40 scholars from across America presented research from a wide array of majors including chemistry, geography, physics and aerospace engineering.

Boster became interested in this field during her first encounters with the Astronomic Instrumentation Lab on the Texas A&M University campus, where she has been working on a project called VIRUS since her freshman year of her undergraduate career. Approximately 15 students and professors are working on VIRUS, a project in collaboration with schools such as The University of Texas, Penn State, Oxford, and many others around the world. Lab Manager Dr. Jennifer Marshall hired Boster during her freshman year and has acted as her mentor ever since.

Astronaut Scholars Conference
Astronaut Scholars Conference
Boster is now officially an alumnus of the ASF, and she plans to attend the conference every year if possible. “The conference is such a great opportunity” she said, “I want to stay involved, give back in funds, and help the next generation of scholars.”

The aerospace engineering student is currently a nominee for both the Marshall Scholarship and the Mitchell Scholarship, two national fellowships which will proceed to interviews during the month of November.

Boster interned with the Mars lander at Lockheed Martin in summer 2013, and plans to pursue a career in aerospace engineering when she graduates in December. She has a passion for international collaboration and plans to travel in order to further collaborative relationships between different countries in order to unify their uses of aerospace engineering.

Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) would like to congratulate Emily Boster on the 2012 ASF scholarship and wish her the best after her graduation in December. We are so proud of our students’ hard work. It definitely pays off!

Congratulations to 2013 Portz Scholar, Cecilia Morales!

By Hayley Cox

In August, HUR’s Cecilia Morales was announced as a 2013 National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Portz Scholar. The NCHC Portz Scholars Program began in 1990 to enable NCHC to acknowledge John and Edythe Portz’s many contributions to honors education. The NCHC continues to honor their memory by selecting the top research/creative papers by undergraduate honors students who have been nominated by their institutions for their outstanding work.

Cecilia Morales - Best Thesis Award & Portz Scholar
Cecilia Morales – Best Thesis Award & Portz Scholar
Cecilia Morales, a senior English student at Texas A&M University, was nominated by Honors Director Dr. Sumana Datta. Morales wrote a research paper entitled “Creating Mother: Mother’s Legacies in the Context of the Conduct of Literature of Seventeenth-Century England,” which had already been selected for the Best Thesis Award at Texas A&M. Each collegiate Honors department in the country is allowed to submit only one thesis to nominate its author for the Portz Scholarship (The University of Nevada at Reno and The University of Arkansas at Little Rock were also awarded with Portz Scholars).

In Morales’s words:

“This paper examines the genre of 17th-century Mothers’ Legacies in relation to the conduct literature written during the same period. It discusses the manner in which the women writers of Mothers’ Legacies both confirm and deny the ideal form of womanhood laid out by conduct writers. By writing from the place of the mother, these women were fulfilling a socially prescribed role, but by publishing for a wide audience, they stepped out of their traditional domestic domain. The paper ends by delineating and explaining the gap between what 17th-century women were told to do and what they actually did.”

The three NCHC Portz Scholars will present their papers at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in New Orleans on Saturday, November 9th. Morales is excited to meet other undergraduate researchers from around the country, as well as to present her own research. She said, “I am extremely honored to receive this award and to have the opportunity to represent A&M at such a prestigious conference. I put a lot of time and energy into my research project, so it’s quite gratifying to have it recognized nationally.”

Post-undergrad, Morales plans to attend graduate school in order to receive a PhD in literature and hopes to become an English professor. She is grateful for the research experience she gained at Texas A&M because it will help her further down the road in her career pursuits.
Morales’s advice to her fellow students was to pursue undergraduate research, even if you do not plan on attending graduate school. She said it is “a great opportunity to make the most out of your college education.”

Honors and Undergraduate Research (HUR) would like to congratulate Cecilia Morales on becoming a Portz Scholar. We wish her luck at the NHCH conference in November! HUR is so proud of its students for the positive impact they make at Texas A&M University.

The Future is Looking Ful-Bright!

By Hayley Cox

fulbrightThe Fulbright Scholar Program, proposed to the U.S. Congress in 1945 by Senator J. William Fulbright, is a U.S. government program in international educational exchange. Senator Fulbright proposed the program as a means of promoting “mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries of the world.”

Since its beginning, the Fulbright Program has provided almost 310,000 participants the opportunity to study, teach, research, and exchange ideas in finding solutions to shared international concerns. The program is administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State and is primarily funded by an annual appropriation made by the United States Congress.

Typical “Fulbrighters” must represent the diversity of their home countries, according to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website eca.state.gov/Fulbright. There are no set criteria for a “Fulbrighter,” as they have included students from a large range of cities, universities, fields of study, and personal backgrounds. “All Fulbrighters share a strong academic background, leadership potential, a passion for increasing mutual understanding among nations and cultures, and the adaptability and flexibility to pursue their proposed Fulbright project successfully.”

Four Texas A&M University students have been recognized by the Fulbright Scholar Program for 2013:

Undergraduate applicant, Audrey (Caroline) Barrow, was named as an English Teaching Assistantship Fulbright winner and will be moving to Kazakhstan in August.

Graduate applicant, Alicia Krzton, was named as an Anthropology Research Fulbright winner and will be moving to China in August.

Graduate applicant, Amber Hall, and undergraduate applicant, Maria Lopez-Salazar, were named as English Teaching Assistantship Fulbright Alternates.

Caroline Barrow - Fulbright Scholar - Kazakhkstan
Caroline Barrow – Fulbright Scholar – Kazakhkstan
Fulbright winner Caroline Barrow graduated in May with degrees in International Studies and Russian. She will move to Kazakhstan in August and be placed in a school in Kostanay where she will teach English.

Barrow applied for the Fulbright Scholars Program in September of 2012. The application process has many stages including an on campus interview and application review by Texas A&M, the Fulbright Scholars board in the U.S., and a Fulbright board in the applicant’s specific country of interest. Barrow was notified in May that she had been selected!

Barrow said she wanted to go to a Russian-speaking country. She said, “I’ve been able to see a few countries in Eastern Europe. Kazakhstan interested me because it’s a very different part of the Former Soviet Union. It is quite a mix of cultures.” The Fulbright winner said she is very excited to represent Texas A&M abroad!

Alicia Krzton - Fulbright Scholar - China
Alicia Krzton – Fulbright Scholar – China
Fulbright winner Alicia Krzton is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, completing her fifth year in graduate school at Texas A&M. She has done research on a species of Chinese golden snub-nosed monkeys called Rhinopithecus roxellana since 2010.

Krzton also applied for the Fulbright Scholars Program in fall of 2012. This year, 60 scholarships were available for China and Krzton was notified in May that she had been selected! Krzton will be moving to China in August to do a semester of intensive language study before she continues on to her main research project in 2014. Her language study is funded by the Critical Language Enhancement Award, an award available as an adjunct to the Fulbright Program.

Krzton is going to China because it is the only country in which the golden snub-nosed monkey is present. She has had a longstanding interest in the people and culture of China as well. Krzton said she was ecstatic upon her notification of selection as a Fulbright winner!

The Fulbright winner encouraged any undergraduates interested in research to pursue outside funding, especially national grants. Krzton said, “I had to hear ‘no’ quite often before I ever got a ‘yes’.” She said this was all part of a great learning process which helped her to grow as a professional.

The Department of Honors and Undergraduate Research congratulates Fulbright winners, Caroline Barrow and Alicia Krzton, and Fulbright alternates, Amber Hall and Maria Lopez-Salazar on their outstanding achievements!

Thirteen Aggies chosen as National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows for 2013!

By Hayley Cox

photoThe National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) supports outstanding graduate students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics and pursuing research-based Masters and Doctoral degrees. This program reinforces diversity in these fields and encourages fellowship applications from minority groups such as women, racial minorities and the disabled. 2012 marked the GRFP’s 60th anniversary.

Over 13,000 applications were submitted for the 2013 National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowship competition, resulting in 2,000 award offers. This spring, 13 former Texas A&M University students were selected as 2013 NSF graduate fellows, while 16 were named honorable mentions. Of these students, 12 had previously completed an undergraduate research thesis at Texas A&M as either an Undergraduate Research Scholar or University Undergraduate Research Fellow.

2013 NSF Graduate Fellow Daniel Freeman graduated from Texas A&M University in 2012 with a Bachelors of Science in both mathematics and physics. While at Texas A&M, Freeman had two major research focuses—molecular beam experiments in the chemistry department and cosmology research in the physics department. His work on the molecule chlorine oxide (ClO) was published in the journal Chemical Physics. Freeman graduated as an Undergraduate Research Scholar, receiving the award for Best Research Scholars Thesis in 2012.

Daniel Freeman - NSF Fellow - Chemistry
Daniel Freeman – NSF Fellow – Chemistry
The 2013 NSF Graduate Fellow said, “The NSF fellowship essentially frees me to pursue what I’d like to as a graduate student, which is intellectually liberating.” Freeman said, “I can steer the course of my studies with more freedom than is afforded to many. I greatly appreciate the opportunity.”

Freeman currently attends the University of California at Berkeley where he has completed his first year as a graduate student research assistant interested in the field of Quantum Information Science.

2013 NSF Graduate Fellow Jennifer Bryson graduated from Texas A&M University with University and Mathematics Honors with a degree in mathematics and minors in physics and electrical engineering. During her undergraduate career, Bryson participated in internships with the Department of Defense as well as Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) in number theory at Emory University. She was also a dedicated player for and captain of the Texas A&M Women’s Water Polo team.

Jennifer Bryson - NSF Fellow - Mathematical Sciences
Jennifer Bryson – NSF Fellow – Mathematical Sciences
Bryson said, “Texas A&M has been the most amazing undergraduate experience for me, supplying an endless amount of incredible opportunities. I owe a ton to this university and the numerous faculty and staff members who have helped me so much along the way.” She said, “A&M is truly a special place. I’m so thrilled to have more time at the place I love so much!”

Bryson is currently enjoying her summer working on the East Coast on a math research project, and she will be continuing on at Texas A&M in the fall to begin her PhD in mathematics.

The Honors and Undergraduate Research Department (HUR) would like to congratulate the 2013 National Science Foundation Fellows and Honorable Mentions!

Fellows:

Kaila Morgen Bertsch – Materials Sciences

Jennifer Anne Bryson – Mathematical Sciences

Cynthia Marie Castro – Civil Engineering

Jory London Denny – Computer Science

Christian Daniel Freeman – Chemistry

Kim Lani Gonzalez – Cell Biology

Bagrat Grigoryan – Biomedical Engineering

Candice Marie Haase – Biomedical Engineering

Richard Joseph Hendrick – Mechanical Engineering

Landon Daniel Nash – Biomedical Engineering

Katherine Christine Stuckman – Computer Science

Cherish Christony Vance – Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Timothy Daniel Woodbury – Aerospace Engineering

Honorable Mention:

Haron Abdel-Raziq – Electrical Engineering

Brian Bass – Electrical Engineering

Tyler William Behm – Physics and Astronomy

Trevor John Bennett – Aerospace Engineering

Christine Michelle Bergerson – Biomedical Engineering

Alexandra Lynn Bryson – Microbiology

Shannon Lee Cole – Neuropsychology

Nathan Bradley Favero – Political Science

John Robert Haliburton – Biophysics

Matthew Christopher Johnson – Electrical Engineering

Michael Clinton Koetting – Chemical Engineering

Jeehyun Park – Biomedical Engineering

Courtney Nicole Passow – Evolutionary Biology

Kaitlyn Stiles – Biological Anthropology

Laura Timm – Marine Biology

Elizabeth Susan Wilson – Ecology

Mokhtar Awad Selected as First Texas A&M Carnegie Junior Fellow

Mokhtar Awad
Mokhtar Awad, 2012 Carnegie Junior Fellow

Senior political science major Mokhtar Awad has been selected as a Carnegie Junior Fellow  for 2012-2013. Mokhtar will work as a research assistant to the senior associates in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. Mokhtar is the first Texas A&M student ever to be nominated or selected for this prestigious fellowship. Mokhtar was selected for the Fall 2011 Public Policy Internship Program and he recently completed an internship in Washington, D.C.

The Carnegie Junior Fellows Program awards 8-10 fellowships each year to exceptional graduating seniors or recent graduates. Close to 400 nominating institutions participate in the program; these nominations are narrowed to a pool of 25-30 for a rigorous interview process that requires language fluency and in-depth knowledge of the region.

After completing his fellowship, Mokhtar hopes to build a career with an NGO or think-tank that covers Middle Eastern issues and writes about political developments.