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Two juniors win Goldwater scholarships

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

LAWRENCE — Bryce Tappan, a junior in chemistry, and Jessica van Loben Sels, a junior in microbiology, have each been awarded a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the nation’s premier undergraduate award for academically gifted students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The Goldwater Scholarship program — established by Congress in 1986 to ensure a continuing source of scientists, mathematicians and engineers — provides annual scholarships to cover winners’ cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Tappan and van Loben Sels become the 57th and 58th University of Kansas students to be recognized with a Goldwater scholarship. In addition, Daniel Rhodes, a junior in physics, was recognized with an honorable mention.

Schools may nominate a maximum of four students for Goldwater scholarships each year. Tappan, van Loben Sels and Rhodes — along with junior David Gier — were nominated by KU earlier this spring.

“We had four outstanding nominees this year,” said Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships & scholarships for the University Honors Program, “and for two of them to win and a third to receive an honorable mention is an outstanding achievement and a testament to their hard work and dedication.”

Tappan works in the lab of Professor Mikhail Barybin in chemistry. His work is related to nanotechnology, and his long-term goal is to research environmental applications. A member of the University Honors Program, Tappan was selected for the 2014 Global Scholars Program and studied abroad in Costa Rica. He is a graduate of Brookings High School and is the son of Alison and Gray Tappan of Brookings, South Dakota.

Van Loben Sels works in the lab of Professor David Davido in molecular biosciences. Her research is related to the herpes simplex virus, and she intends to pursue a research career in virology. She is a member of the University Honors Program and the 2014 University Scholars Program,, and she is a recipient of the K-INBRE research fellowship in 2014 and 2015. A graduate of St. Pius X High School, she is the daughter of James and Monique van Loben Sels of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Rhodes works in the lab of Professor Daniel Tapia Takaki in physics & astronomy. His research has focused on analyzing simulations of heavy ion ultra-peripheral collision events, and he plans a research career in high-energy nuclear physics. He is a member of the University Honors Program and is the 2014-2015 recipient of the Gene Feaster Undergraduate Physics Scholarship. He also is a resident of Pearson Scholarship Hall. A graduate of Oskaloosa High School, he is the son of Chris and Alma Rhodes of McLouth.

Gier is triple-majoring in physics, interdisciplinary computing and mathematics, and he has worked with Professor Alice Bean in physics & astronomy. He is currently working with Professor Joaquin Drut of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill after being selected for a Computational Astronomy and Physics Research Experience for Undergraduates last summer. A member of the University Honors Program and the 2013 University Scholars Program, he plans a career in the field of computational cosmology. A graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, he is the son of Rick and Cindy Gier of Overland Park.

Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 86 Rhodes scholarships, 123 Marshall awards, 123 Churchill scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.