Montana State University

MSU scholars celebrate prestigious awards

May 1, 2014 -- MSU News Service

Montana State University students were honored for receiving top national academic scholarships or honorable mentions at MSU’s annual Major Scholarships Reception held April 30. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham   High-Res Available

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN—Seventeen Montana State University students were honored for receiving top national academic scholarships or honorable mentions at MSU’s annual Major Scholarships Reception held April 30.

Ilse-Mari Lee, dean of MSU’s Honors College, honored undergraduates who had received or were finalists for Goldwater, Udall and Fulbright scholarships as well as MSU graduate students who had received prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships. The reception also honored MSU students who were finalists for Truman and Rhodes scholarships.

Katherine Kent, McLain Leonard and Connor Murnion were honored as MSU's most recent Goldwater scholars, and Cassia Wagner, just a sophomore, was an honorable mention for the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering. Kent is a chemical and bioengineering major from Billings, and Leonard, of Post Falls, Idaho, is majoring in chemical engineering. Murnion is majoring in cell biology and psychology and is from Helena.

The Goldwater awards each student up to $7,500 a year for tuition, fees, books, and room and board. MSU has now received 61 Goldwater scholarships, keeping the university one of the nation's top institutions for numbers of recipients, Lee said.

Two MSU students were honored for winning the prestigious Udall scholarship. Cara Thuringer, a junior majoring in environmental studies and photography, is from Sioux Falls, S.D., and earned the scholarship in the environmental category. Emery Three Irons, a junior in geospatial and environmental analysis from Crow Agency, demonstrated a commitment to following a career in tribal public policy. Kellie Phillips, a nursing student from Billings, was one of 50 honorable mentions selected nation-wide this year by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation.

With nearly 500 nominations for the scholarship, Thuringer and Three Irons were two of only 50 recipients in the U.S. and were MSU’s sixth and seventh Udall Scholars. 

Nicholas Peyton is a recipient of a Boren scholarship sponsored by the National Security Education Program. The Boren scholarship will provide Peyton, a history and political science major, with $20,000 for a year abroad studying at the University of Wroclaw in Poland. This year 165 undergraduates received Boren scholarships from a pool of 868 students. Peyton is the fifth MSU student to receive a Boren scholarship. Previous MSU recipients studied in Egypt, Africa, Chile and Israel.

MSU students Mica Jenkins and Brent Zundel were honored for receiving Fulbright scholarships.  Jenkins, a graduate student in health and human development from Lenior City, Tenn., is heading to Mozambique this fall to further her research in sustainable food systems. Zundel, originally from Billings, will travel to Chile for an in-depth study of the impact of different hydraulic conditions on native fish in Patagonia. This research is part of his master’s degree program in civil engineering.

The National Science Foundation offered graduate research fellowships to Nathaniel Looker, graduate student in ecology from Des Moines, Iowa; Justin Martin, doctoral candidate in ecology and environmental science from Bozeman; Julie Muretta, mechanical engineering, Bozeman; and Flynn Murray, civil engineering, Moorhead, Minn.

Three MSU students were named national finalists:  Gabriel Lavin, majoring in ethnomusicology, from Bozeman was named a Fulbright finalist; Patrick Tate, a chemical and biological engineering student from Vancouver, Wash. was a Rhodes national finalist; and Logan Warberg, a computer and political science major from Kalispell was named a Truman finalist.

Contact: Ilse-Marie Lee, (406)994-4689,

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