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April 13, 2011
By Misha Ray
Rachel Miller and Muir Morrison are both excellent physics students in their junior year at the University of Nevada, Reno. Both are National Merit Scholars and in the Honor’s Program. Both hope to become professors after receiving their doctorates. But most recently, both have been awarded the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a fellowship scholarship for students in the math, science or engineering field.
“These students compete against hundreds of other students across the nation,” said Tamara Valentine, director of the University’s Honors Program. “The application process is writing intensive, research oriented, and very time consuming. Simply completing the process is a testament to the high quality of the student.”
Both Morrison and Miller were required to submit a research proposal for the scholarship application. Miller submitted a proposal for a research project she is currently working on, the effect of water preventing sound from traveling through sandstone and how to extract the water from the rock. Morrison also submitted a proposal for a project he is currently working on, working with atoms to make an atomic computer.
Morrison, originally from Quincy, Cal., came to the University of Nevada, Reno for a variety of reasons.
“Originally, I came here because of the low cost,” Morrison said. “But I discovered the physics department here is phenomenal; my advisers are absolutely amazing. And how many other freshmen in other departments would personally be invited by the dean to help out with research on their first day of school?”
Miller, 22, has lived in Reno her entire life and was also impressed with the University’s physics department.
“The physics department here really is amazing,” Miller said. “I’m very happy with my decision to come to UNR.” While both students are studying physics, both have very different interests within the department.
“I tried experimental physics,” Morrison said. “I came here thinking I wanted to do theory, but I tried experimental anyway. Because my adviser was so amazing, I began to question if I really wanted to do theory. As it turns out, I really do belong in theory.”
Miller originally planned on doing atmospheric physics, but now plans to focus more on geophysics.
“After I started doing more geological research, I realized that’s what I really want to do,” Miller said.
Both students will graduate in the spring of 2012.
This year, 275 Goldwater Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,095 undergraduate sophomore and junior mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one- and two-year scholarships awarded will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Since its first award in 1989, the Excellence in Education Foundation has bestowed more than 6,600 scholarships worth approximately $50 million.
In addition to the Goldwater Scholars selected from the University of Nevada, dual chemistry and music major Anna Koster, a junior in the Honors Program, was awarded Honorable Mention. Koster wishes to teach and conduct research at the university level with an emphasis in green chemistry and organic synthesis.
More information about the Barry Goldwater Scholarship.