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Three students earn Astronaut Scholarships

Thu, 05/24/2018

LAWRENCE — The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has named three University of Kansas students as Astronaut Scholars for the 2018-19 school year. This is the first time that three KU students have won the award during the same year.

The recipients of the award:

  • Emily Boyd, a senior from Moran majoring in chemistry
  • Joseph Loomis, a senior from Pratt majoring in chemistry and biochemistry
  • Brianna Marsh, a senior from St. Louis majoring in neuroscience and minoring in social and behavioral sciences methodology

Boyd and Loomis also earned Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships this year.

All three students will join an elite group of recipients who will each receive up to $10,000 and opportunities to participate in professional development events while being mentored by scholar alumni, C-level executives or an astronaut.

“For one school to receive three scholarships is quite unusual and is a tribute to the quality of our nominees,” said Steve Hawley, a KU professor of physics & astronomy and a former NASA astronaut who serves as the chairman of the scholarship’s campus committee. “These students have all demonstrated that they will be outstanding future leaders in science and technology, and I look forward to seeing where their careers will take them.”

The six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts founded the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation in 1984 as a means to encourage students to pursue scientific endeavors to keep the U.S. on the leading edge of technology. The Astronaut Scholarship specifically recognizes juniors and seniors who have demonstrated accomplishment in research and the potential to be future leaders in research and technology.

Astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs have joined the foundation, which has awarded more than $4 million to more than 400 of the nation’s top scholars.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation accepted KU as a partner institution in 2014 based on the excellence of the university’s STEM academic programs for undergraduates and the strong research capabilities and opportunities for undergraduate students. Admission into the scholarship program is highly competitive, and only the top research universities in the country are chosen to participate.

KU’s Office of Fellowships coordinates the campus nomination process each year.

Additional information about this year’s winners:

Emily Boyd is the daughter of Mark Boyd and Patti Miklos Boyd of Moran. A graduate of Marmaton Valley High School, Boyd is preparing for a career researching environmentally beneficial catalysis. She works in the lab of James Blakemore, assistant professor of chemistry, researching organometallic chemistry and catalysis. She has presented her work at regional and national meetings of the American Chemical Society.

Joseph Loomis is the son of Ted and Linda Loomis of Pratt. A graduate of Pratt High School, Loomis is planning a career researching the molecular mechanism of neurodegenerative disease. He joined the lab of Michael Johnson, assistant professor of chemistry, during the summer after he graduated from high school. A scholar in the Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE), Loomis has presented at regional professional conferences and at the 254th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Brianna Marsh is the daughter of Pat and Eva Marsh of Wildwood, Missouri. A graduate of Eureka High School, Marsh is working in the lab of Jonathan Brumberg, assistant professor of speech-language-hearing, on a project to identify intent to speak in patients with communication deficits to improve brain-computer-interface technology. She previously conducted research in the Alzheimer’s Disease Lab of Jacob Moskovitz, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology; on artificial neural network design with Jarod Hart, a researcher in the Higuchi Biosciences Center; and on neurolinguistics and language processing with Robert Florentino, associate professor of linguistics. In the summer of 2017 she was an Amgen Scholar at the University of California-Berkeley, and in the summer of 2016, she held an undergraduate research fellowship at the University of Vermont.



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