Three Montana State University students learned this week that they have received the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering.
Brigit Noon from Fairbanks, Alaska, Anna Scott from Los Alamos, N.M., and Riley Shearer from Lake Oswego, Ore., each received the scholarship, which gives each student up to $7,500 a year for tuition, fees, books, and room and board.
MSU has now produced 64 Goldwater scholars, keeping the university one of the nation’s top institutions for number of recipients.
“Anna, Brigit and Riley are extraordinary scholars who are most deserving of this prestigious award,” said Ilse-Mari Lee, dean of the MSU Honors College. “I would also like to recognize the efforts of our MSU faculty, who have mentored and guided these students both in the classroom and in our research labs throughout their undergraduate careers. This is a communal effort and a strength of our institution.”
All three recipients are MSU Honors College students who conduct research, Lee said. Noon is a junior and is majoring in biochemistry. Shearer, also a junior, is majoring in chemical engineering, biochemistry and economics. Scott is a sophomore and is majoring in chemistry.
Noon learned that she had won the Goldwater Scholarship after walking into her analytical chemistry class on Tuesday morning and hearing her fellow recipients Scott and Shearer ask, “Have you heard? Have you heard?” Then she opened an email that officially gave her the news.
The Goldwater Scholarship is steering her toward pursuing a dual MD/Ph.D. after graduating from MSU, Noon said. She originally planned to work toward a medical degree, but a Ph.D. would allow her to conduct research, as well.
“I’m really interested in health care – the science that goes into improving health care and health care techniques,” Noon said.
Noon – who spent most of the afternoon volunteering at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, escorting patients to their appointments – said she likes research because it’s about creativity and problem solving. She became interested in research in high school and then joined Brian Bothner’s laboratory in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as an MSU freshman. Now a junior, she will present her latest findings at MSU’s Student Research Celebration on April 9. Her project involved the real-time monitoring of biofluid samples from a living system.
Scott, who will also present a project at the Student Research Celebration, researches enzymes in Joan Broderick’s laboratory, where she has been conducting research since the second semester of her freshman year. Celebrating her Goldwater Scholarship with her research group and cupcakes, Scott said she is thankful for the opportunity to work with Broderick and graduate student Jeremiah Betz. She also appreciates all her chemistry instructors, particularly Rob Walker and Trevor Rainey.
The daughter of two chemists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Scott said she enrolled at MSU because her grandmother – a high school counselor – recommended it. MSU also attracted Scott because she could conduct research as an undergraduate. She enjoys both chemistry and research and said she plans to pursue a research career at a major university.
“I just really enjoy being able to apply my knowledge to help discover more and uncover more about these biological systems I’m studying,” Scott said. “I find them to be really interesting and intricate.”
Of chemistry, she said, “I really like how it connects all the different sciences and really delves into how the world works. I also enjoy its complexity.”
Shearer said applying for the Goldwater Scholarship took a lot of time and effort, but the process of applying also demonstrated to him how much faculty at MSU care about their students. He said he has enjoyed the support and guidance of five faculty mentors.
Shearer said he chose to enroll at MSU due to the combination of “fantastic academic opportunities…and fantastic outdoor opportunities like skiing and climbing.”
He said his experience at MSU has been “amazing,” with a number of good mentors and opportunities for work in laboratories. Shearer currently works in Professor Stephanie McCalla’s research laboratory.
The Honors College, Shearer added, provides a smaller environment that he views “like a family.”
After graduating from MSU, Shearer is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering or economics.
Contact: Ilse-Mari Lee, dean, MSU Honors College, (406) 994-4110 or firstname.lastname@example.org