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Montana Tech Student Awarded 2012 Goldwater Scholarship


Montana Tech student Robert Hark has been awarded a 2012 Goldwater Scholarship. Mrs. Peggy Goldwater Clay, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, announced that the Trustees awarded 282 scholarships for the 2012–2013 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors from the United States.

The Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. One hundred seventy-four of the Scholars are men, 108 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Twenty Scholars are mathematics majors, 194 are science and related majors, 58 are majoring in engineering, and 10 are computer science majors. Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines.

Robert will graduate from Montana Tech in May of 2013, with bachelor of science degrees in Professional Chemistry, Mathematical Sciences, and Statistics. Robert spent his childhood on a small cattle ranch outside the small town of Eureka, Montana, where he developed a hard-working mentality. "I have always been fascinated by mathematics and science, and my strong interests in these areas led me to enroll--as a first-generation college student--in Montana Tech’s Professional Chemistry program in the fall semester of 2008," said Hark. To satisfy his interests in mathematics, Hark later added Mathematical Sciences and Statistics to his academic curriculum. Hark stays active on campus away from his academic studies. He has been a chemistry tutor at the Tech Learning Center (TLC) since the fall semester of 2009, and a mathematics tutor since the fall semester of 2011. He has also conducted research as part of Montana Tech’s Undergraduate Research Program since the fall semester of 2010, and conducted physical chemistry research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as a participant in the 2011 MIT Amgen-UROP Scholars program. In addition to his academic pursuits, he has been involved in Chemistry Club and Math Club, and has been elected the Math Club President for the upcoming academic year. "After I graduate from Montana Tech, I intend to pursue a Ph.D. in either statistics or chemistry (computational) at a top university in the United States, a goal that my education at Montana Tech has certainly placed within my reach," added Hark. "I am satisfied with my decision to attend Montana Tech, and I am proud to represent Montana Tech as a 2012 Goldwater Scholar."

Dr. Marisa Pedulla chairs Montana Tech’s National Student Awards Committee (NSAC), which supports Montana Tech students for major national and international scholarships. The mission of NSAC is to create a campus community that fosters and supports outstanding Montana Tech students throughout their education and to nominate and assist Montana Tech’s top students in the preparation of applications for prestigious National Awards. Dr. Pedulla worked closely with Bob Hark to prepare his application. She noted, "Upon speaking with faculty members in our Mathematics, Statistics, and Chemistry departments, I learned of their immense respect for Bob’s intellectual abilities and his capacity for world-class research. He is recognized across our campus as a shining star, whose potential is unsurpassed among our best and brightest students over many years. Robert Hark embodies all that the Goldwater Scholarship seeks to recognize and reward in our nation’s best and most capable students."

In the past 6 years, Montana Tech’s NSAC has had two Goldwater Scholars, one Goldwater honorable mention, and two students interview for a Rhodes Scholarship. Also, Montana Tech 2010 chemistry alum, Cory Sonneman, who is a medical student at Pacific Northwest University College of Osteopathic Medicine, won a National Health Service Corps Scholarship and current metallurgical student, Ivan Sljivar, won the NAIA Champions of Character Leroy Walker Award.

Robert is the third Montana Tech student to receive a Goldwater Scholarship. In 2007, Mathematics/Statistics major Christopher R. Dienes received the award and graduated from Montana Tech with a Math/Statistics degree in 2008. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at UC Davis. Calley Jones was Montana Tech’s first Goldwater Scholar in 2000. She graduated from Montana Tech in 2001 with a degree in Math/Statistics.

"As one of Bob' advisors/mentors, I can honestly say that Robert Hark is an exceptional student and has great potential to become a leading researcher in whichever field he decides to pursue," explained Dr. Richard Rossi, Mathematical Sciences Department Health. "Students like Bob are extremely rare, but Montana Tech seems to attract this type of student. Working with students like Bob, Chris, and Calley has been one of my highlights while working at Montana Tech."

The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Goldwater Scholars have very impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 78 Rhodes Scholarships, 112 Marshall Awards, 104 Churchill Scholarships and numerous other distinguished fellowships.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry M. Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

Since its first award in 1989, the Foundation has bestowed over 6200 scholarships worth approximately 39 million dollars. The Trustees plan to award about three hundred scholarships for the 2013–2014 academic year.

This summer, Robert will be participating in the National Science Foundation Math/Statistics Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program at Worcester Polytechnic (WPI).