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University Relations

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March 2, 2005
Contact: Sue Lorenz, KU Honors Program, (785) 864-3374; or Mary Jane Dunlap, University Relations, (785) 864-8853.

4 KU juniors competing for national Goldwater scholarships

LAWRENCE -- Four University of Kansas juniors are competing for national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships to encourage excellence in science, engineering and mathematics.

The scholarships provide up to $7,500 for tuition, fees, books, and room and board. Winners who will graduate in 2006 receive one year of support; those graduating in 2007 receive two years of support. Winners will be announced in early April.

KU's nominees are Shawn Henderson, Wichita; David Hover, Overland Park; Hannah Swift, Olathe; and Joshua Sebree, Salina. All plan to graduate in May 2006.

Thirty-five KU students have been named Goldwater scholars since the first scholarships were awarded in 1989. Congress established the program in 1986 to pay tribute to retired U.S. Sen. Goldwater of Arizona and to ensure a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

The board of trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, Washington, D.C., plans to award up to 300 Goldwater scholarships for the 2005-06 academic year. Scholars are selected based on academic merit from a field of more than 1,000 students nominated by faculty members from colleges and universities nationwide.

Only sophomores or juniors who plan to graduate in 2006 or 2007 and who were judged to have outstanding academic records, significant research experience, and high potential for a career in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering were eligible for nomination by their universities. Nominees submitted applications that included an essay related to the nominee's career and faculty recommendations.

Brief sketches of each KU nominee's undergraduate research and scholarship activities follow.

Shawn W. Henderson, Wichita junior, is majoring in both physics and mathematics. His career goals include researching and teaching high-energy physics at the university level. Henderson arrived at KU planning to major in English and has studied literature and philosophy at the University of Cambridge in England. In his freshman year, however, Henderson worked in the research lab of David Besson, professor of physics. Henderson's tasks evolved into undergraduate research projects as well as a decision to major in physics. Henderson has developed software for data collected from CLEO, a particle detector at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He titled his competition essay: "My Odyssey in Particle Physics (and the path that led me to Ithaca)." He received an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates program of the National Science Foundation) award for summer study at Cornell. Henderson has written a paper with Besson that is scheduled for publication this year. Henderson's awards include a National Merit scholarship and a Boeing National Merit Finalist Scholarship. He has received undergraduate research awards at KU for summers 2003 and 2004. He is the son of Wesley and Marilyn Henderson of Wichita and is a Wichita High School East graduate.

David J. Hover, Overland Park junior, is majoring in physics and in mathematics with a minor in philosophy. His career interests include researching experimental physics and researching renewable energy. Alice Bean, professor of physics, has guided his research of the Silicon Microstrip Tracker in her lab. He received an undergraduate research award for a study in particle tracking efficiency in which he is working to decrease errors and increase efficiency in the collection of data. For summer 2005 he has received an REU award through the University of Michigan to research at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland. Hover remembers as a child looking at the stars and hoping to grasp the untouchable and vowing to be the first man on Mars. A few years later, physics captured his attention as he viewed "a star-soaked sky on a Montana mountainside" after reading Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time." At KU, Hover is a Summerfield scholar, receiving one of 50 scholarships awarded to incoming outstanding male freshmen. He is the son of James and Kathy Hover and is a Blue Valley High School graduate.

Joshua A. Sebree, Salina junior, is majoring in chemistry and would like to specialize in physical chemistry with a focus on molecular dynamics. Ultimately Sebree hopes to become an astronaut and do research in space on the dynamics of molecules in a weightless environment. His long-range goal for research in space would be developing new chemical processes that are more beneficial to the environment. At KU he works in the lab of Brian Laird, professor of chemistry, investigating the solubility of oxygen in the matrix. During summer 2004, he worked as a research assistant at the University of Regensburg in Germany. Sebree's competition essay is titled "Advancements in Science versus the Degradation of the Environment." As a member of KU's Chemistry Club, Sebree gives magic shows for schoolchildren demonstrating the powers of fire and ice. At KU, he has received the Whittaker scholarship and the Clark E. Bricker scholarship for an outstanding sophomore researcher. He is the son of Steve and Jeanne Sebree and is a Salina High School graduate.

Hannah K. Swift, Olathe junior, has three majors: physics, astronomy and mathematics. She plans a career researching particle astrophysics. As a freshman, she worked with the Cosmology Group in KU's physics and astronomy department. Under the direction of Adrian Melott, professor of physics and astronomy, Swift wrote computer code to analyze data that model the structural formation of the universe. In her sophomore year, she began a research project with David Besson, professor of physics and astronomy, compiling a database for data collected with the Radio Ice Cerenkov Experiment (RICE). Swift has "designed, debugged and run a computer program that combines the day and time of gamma-ray burst detections (made by in-Earth-orbit satellites)." She is now searching for coincidences within 10 minutes with recorded RICE events. This summer Swift plans to teach English in Tibet to middle school level youngsters.

She is a National Merit scholar and received an undergraduate research award for summer 2003. She is the daughter of Thomas and Virginia Swift and is an Olathe South High School graduate.


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