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University Relations

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March 30, 2005
Contact: Sue Lorenz, KU Honors Program, (785) 864-3374; or Mary Jane Dunlap, University Relations, (785) 864-8853.

3 KU juniors win national Goldwater scholarships in science, engineering, math

LAWRENCE -- Three University of Kansas juniors have won national Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, regarded as the premier undergraduate award to encourage excellence in science, engineering and mathematics.

Shawn Henderson, Wichita; David Hover, Overland Park; and Hannah Swift, Olathe, were among 320 scholars announced this week by Peggy Goldwater Clay, chair of the board of trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation in Washington, D.C.

KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway said: "All Kansans can join in taking pride in these outstanding students who are emerging as leaders in science and mathematics for the 21st century. Shawn Henderson, David Hover and Hannah Swift represent not only excellence as Kansas scholars but also an outstanding commitment to seeking challenges in their fields."

Thirty-eight 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 the retired U.S. senator from Arizona and to ensure a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

In all, 10 students representing Kansas, eight from Kansas universities, were named Goldwater scholars for 2005-06. They were among more than 1,000 students nationwide competing for the scholarships.

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.

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.

Goldwater scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious postgraduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater scholars have received 58 Rhodes scholarships, 72 Marshall awards (six of the 40 awarded in the United States in 2005) and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

KU's 2005 Goldwater Scholars are:

Shawn W. Henderson, Wichita junior, is majoring in physics and in 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 award (Research Experiences for Undergraduates program of the National Science Foundation) 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.

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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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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