Tim Brox, a physics major from Fresno, Calif., and Loribeth Evertz, a mechanical engineering major from Joliet, are the 50th and 51st MSU students to receive the nation's premiere scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences and engineering since the Goldwater Foundation was established in 1986. The scholarships will give each recipient up to $7,500 a year for tuition, fees, books, and room and board.
With Brox's and Evertz' awards, MSU continues to be one of the top institutions in the United States for Goldwater recipients, said Ilse-Mari Lee, director of MSU's Honors Program and administrator of the Goldwater Scholarship program at MSU.
"It's very, very exciting," Lee said. "They are hard-working and motivated students, as well as gifted researchers. I am so pleased for them. They truly have stellar futures awaiting them."
Brox said he has been fascinated by ice ever since the Boy Scouts of America did a national search and selected him as an Eagle Scout to participate in a National Science Foundation program in Antarctica. He spent the fall of 2001 and the spring of 2002 in Antarctica, then returned to Antarctica in 2003 to work as a contract employee in construction and maintenance.
Brox went back to Antarctica in 2007 and 2009 as part of a team led by Mark Skidmore, an assistant professor in earth sciences at MSU. The researchers collected samples from the Taylor Glacier, then returned to MSU to study them in MSU's Subzero Science and Engineering Research Facility. Since Brox is a machinist as well as an MSU student, he designed some of the equipment they used.
He's intrigued by ice, because it looks solid but between the ice crystals are networks of liquid veins that house microorganisms, Brox said. The microbes reveal information about Antarctica and might contribute to the search for life on other planets.
Ice has a complexity he enjoys, and the study of ice is an emerging field he loves explaining to others, Brox added.
"It's a complex, but very common subject," Brox said. "Something about that fascinates me."
Evertz said she was inspired to become an engineer, in part, because her father and two older brothers were engineers. And since she grew up on a ranch, she already used engineering skills as a child and teenager.
"We had different projects, like fixing equipment, that required us to be creative and find solutions," Evertz said.
Her father gave her projects throughout her youth, Evertz recalled. In one, he gave her the Sunday paper and told her to plot the weekly weather forecast. Then, throughout the week, she added statistics about the weather that actually occurred and analyzed the differences and similarities.
Her interest in engineering was also fueled by visiting family members in hospitals, Evertz said. She became curious about medical procedures and how the equipment worked. On one visit to her grandmother, she noticed her feeding tube and pump.
"My dad said, ‛An engineer probably designed that,'" Evertz said. "I got excited because it combined medicine with engineering."
Evertz uses magnetic resonance imaging to study oscillating flow, a model for blood flow in the body, work that has been funded by INBRE's program for undergraduate research. Looking for a way to enhance drug delivery, she made a pump to simulate the heart and pump "blood." This summer, she will work in a German laboratory where she will research flow through porous media to better understand filtration processes.
Evertz and Brox both changed their majors while at MSU. Evertz switched from chemical engineering to mechanical engineering to better combine her interests in medicine and engineering. Brox switched from earth sciences to physics to learn more about the math, sciences, mechanics and other areas he needs to understand glaciers.
Both said they appreciated the Goldwater Scholarship for allowing them to pursue those studies. Their mentors said the students were well-deserving.
"It's a fantastic achievement," said physics professor Dana Longcope, Brox's academic adviser in physics.
Skidmore said, "I think Tim's award is timely and well-justified. Tim has worked really hard in the lab and turned out excellent research."
Sarah Codd, associate professor in mechanical and industrial engineering, noted that Evertz is in a field where only five percent of the people are women.
"Loribeth is one of the top students in her classes," Codd said. "She is collegial, resourceful, adventurous and self-motivated."
For related articles, read:
"Two MSU chemistry students receive Goldwater Scholarships" at http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=7017
"Absarokee native receives MSU's 47th Goldwater Scholarship" at http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=4712
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or firstname.lastname@example.org