Motivated senior becomes the University’s 9th Barry Goldwater Scholar

Brandon Rasmussen receives scholarship to pursue research in geophysics and geology

Brandon Rasmussen standing among trees

Motivated senior becomes the University’s 9th Barry Goldwater Scholar

Brandon Rasmussen receives scholarship to pursue research in geophysics and geology

Brandon Rasmussen standing among trees

University of Nevada, Reno science student Brandon Rasmussen has been awarded the 2016 Barry Goldwater Scholarship, making him the sole recipient in Nevada. Rasmussen earned the scholarship through motivation, hard work and dedication towards his education at the University.

"It was a really big surprise to me because the competition was really stiff," Rasmussen said. "So, I was really thankful in the end; it helps get me through school because I completely fund my own education."

Rasmussen is an Honors Program student and the ninth Goldwater scholar at the University. He is majoring in geology and geophysics and minoring in mathematics and physics. During the second semester of his freshman year, Rasmussen took an introduction to physics course and loved it. His love for the course brought about his interest and second major in geophysics. He gained credits through advanced-placement courses he took at Galena high school, giving him a jumpstart to college which allowed him the ability to have two minors.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986. The scholarship was created to honor Barry Goldwater, who served as a soldier and a statesman for 56 years and 30 years in the United States Senate. The scholarship is awarded to students pursuing advanced degrees in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields who will then continue their research in these fields.

The scholarship awards students $7,500 to be used to help pay for tuition, housing, books and other college expenses.

"I am set on going to graduate school; in the science world, funding is pretty much everything," Rasmussen said. "When it comes to getting into good graduate schools, having as many unique qualifications to set you apart is really important."

Rasmussen plans to get a master's degree in geophysics, and after a few years in the industry, will eventually pursue his ultimate goal: a doctorate degree. Depending on what Rasmussen decides to study, he has his eyes set on graduate school at either Stanford or a few places in Australia.

Rasmussen has been involved with multiple research activities on and off campus, and was motivated right from the start.

"Starting my freshman year, I just walked into people's offices and asked for work around campus because I didn't just want to work in retail," Rasmussen said. "I wanted to actually work in my field."

During his first year at the University, he began working with Craig dePolo, a research geologist for the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology. Rasmussen helped create a research project on flooding in Reno where he was involved as a coauthor on a publication, which is still under review, on ditch flooding and historical damage in the Reno area. He also worked with John Muntean, director for Ralph Roberts Center for Research in Economic Geology and the Arthur Brant Chair in Exploration Geology, and John Louie, a professor of geophysics at the University. Rasmussen also had the chance to work with Wendy Calvin, department chair of the University's Geological Sciences and Engineering department.

"The quality of education here is top-notch," Tamara Valentine, the director of the Honors Program at the University, said. "For the students to have the opportunity to work with faculty like this, and to be given the support that they need to win awards like these, is quite special."

Although there was only one scholarship finalist in Nevada, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Program recognizes students who were close to becoming finalists and are worthy of honorable mentions. The honorable mentions from the University this year were Honors Program students Anita Savell, electrical engineering major, and Adam Kirosingh, molecular biology and immunology major. All three students are recognized for their hard work and dedication, and are now equipped with a resume builder that will help them get into graduate school.

Rasmussen is spending his summer as an intern in Colorado where he will be performing surface wave tomography using data from seismic stations in the Mackenzie Mountain area of Canada. When Rasmussen is not studying or working on projects, he enjoys playing the drums and hanging out with friends. He enjoys diving, where he has previously dove in Fiji, Bonaire and Jamaica. He also enjoys the outdoors, camping, hiking and traveling.

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