Montana State University

MSU student from Helena wins latest Goldwater Scholarship

March 30, 2005 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service


Bridgid Crowley (MSU photo by Erin Raley)   High-Res Available

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Another Helena native majoring in biochemistry at Montana State University has received the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for undergraduate excellence in math, science and engineering.

"I'm still shocked about it," said Bridgid Crowley, an MSU junior and 2002 graduate of Helena High School.

Crowley was one of 320 students in the nation to receive the 2005-06 scholarship that pays up to $7,500 a year for two years of undergraduate education, the Goldwater Foundation announced this week. Almost 2,000 sophomores and juniors applied. Crowley was the only Montana recipient. Jay Stringer, a graduate of Capital High School in Helena, won the award last year, along with Angela "Angie" Kimmel of Seeley Lake.

Crowley -- the 44th MSU student to receive the award since the Goldwater program began in 1986 -- kept MSU in the top dozen institutions in the nation for producing Goldwater scholars. Among the other leaders are Harvard, Princeton and Duke universities.

Crowley has a 3.94 GPA and said she became interested in chemistry when she was a high school junior. She started at MSU as a chemistry major, then switched to biochemistry. She's been working in Trevor Douglas' laboratory since her freshman year. Starting last summer, she worked in his lab as part of the Undergraduate Scholars Program which encourages undergraduate research.

Crowley's research project with graduate student Michelle Flenniken deals with hollow protein cages that have the potential for carrying cancer drugs to specific tumors.

"I have always had an interest in cancer. I started thinking a lot about it when I was young because my grandma had it," Crowley said.

Crowley learned about her Goldwater Scholarship on Monday. The award was announced Wednesday at MSU's annual Undergraduate Scholars Conference where Crowley and almost 90 other undergraduate students presented posters and gave oral talks about their research.

"I stand in awe of our students," said Steve Holmgren, director of MSU's Undergraduate Scholars Program.

Mike Miles, director of MSU's Honor Program, said MSU has had so many Goldwater winners in part because it offers strong programs in academic areas the foundation emphasizes. Other vital factors are significant opportunities for undergraduate research and dedicated faculty mentors.

The value of hands-on research has been on Crowley's mind for some time, said Miles who has known her since she came to MSU. Looking back through the essay Crowley wrote when she applied for the Honors Program, Miles said Crowley quoted the English poet George Herbert as saying, "In doing, we learn."

"That's not a bad definition for research," Miles added.

Crowley hopes to attend graduate school and medical school after MSU, then pursue a career in medical research. A strong believer in volunteer work and service activities, she is one of five children of Ed and Mary Crowley of Helena.

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu