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2 OU Students Receive Goldwater Honors

2 OU Students Receive Goldwater Honors

Brandon Curd and Ben Toms have been named 2015 Goldwater Scholars, placing OU in the top ranks of universities nationally with 48 Goldwater Scholars.

University of Oklahoma honors students Brandon Curd and Ben Toms have been named 2015 Goldwater Scholars, placing OU in the top ranks of universities nationally with 48 Goldwater Scholars since the competition began in 1991. The prestigious scholarships are awarded on the basis of potential and intent to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

“The University is extremely proud of Brandon Curd and Ben Toms,” said OU President David L. Boren. “They are continuing OU’s winning tradition nationally in the competition for Goldwater Scholars.”

Curd, a junior majoring in astrophysics, is from Oklahoma City. He has worked with Mukremin Kilic, OU assistant professor of astronomy, on three projects concerning white dwarf stars. Last summer he participated in an internship with Matthew Tiscareno, senior research associate in astronomy at Cornell University, to conduct research concerning the dynamics of Saturn’s rings. Previous to his work with Kilic, Curd assisted Ian Sellers, OU assistant professor of physics, on the structural properties of semiconductors. Upon graduation from OU, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in astrophysics and research the physical properties of stars and their environments at a university or research institute. This summer he will intern at the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands as a participant in the Leiden/ESA Astrophysics Program for Summer Students. There he will work with Silvia Toonen, research associate, and study the evolution of triple star systems.

Curd currently holds a 3.95 grade-point average and has won many awards in the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy, including the J. Clarence Karcher Scholarship, the Cuba and Ted Webb Scholarship in Physics, the Award for Meritorious Scholarship in Physics and Astronomy, and the William Schriever Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Physics and Astronomy. In addition, he has received the College of Arts and Sciences Robert E. and Mary B. Sturgis Scholarship, and has been listed on the Dean’s and President’s Honor Rolls every semester at OU.

Toms, a junior from Aurora, Colorado, maintains a 4.0 grade-point average and is pursuing degrees in civil engineering and meteorology. He has extensive research experience, including a project detecting black ice on Oklahoma roads with Jeffrey Basara, OU associate professor of meteorology and director of research for the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, and Yang Hong, professor of civil engineering and environmental sciences; test cases for fire flow with Randall J. McDermott, National Institute of Standards and Technology; the effects of a flood at the Colorado Front Range with Basara; an ongoing project at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, where he works with its director, Steven Koch, and David Turner of its Forecast Research and Development Division; and a mobile X-radar system for mountainous areas in Colorado with Pierre Kirstetter, research scientist with the National Weather Center Advanced Radar Research Center. His summer plans include two projects, one with Turner researching the environment of convective precipitation during the nighttime, and another with Kirstetter to place a mobile X-band radar within the Rio Grande National Forest in southern Colorado. His future plans include obtaining a Ph.D. in hydrometeorology and conducting research on terrestrial hydrometeorology while teaching at the university level.

Among his awards and honors are the OU School of Meteorology Non-Resident Award of Academic Excellence, Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation Award at the National Weather Association 39th Annual Meeting, OU College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences Excellence in Academia Award, Wylie Barbour Hamilton Excellence in Engineering Award, OU School of Meteorology Junior Academic Achievement Award, National Institute of Standards and Technology Summer Fellowship and NASA Student Airborne Research Program Summer Fellowship.

The national scholarship competition is conducted by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. This year, 1,206 college sophomores and juniors across the country competed for the 260 scholarships. 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.