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Four students nominated for Astronaut Scholarships

Thursday, April 26, 2018

LAWRENCE — Four outstanding University of Kansas undergraduates are representing KU in the Astronaut Scholarship program.

The six surviving members of the Mercury 7 mission 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. Astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle programs have joined the foundation, which has awarded $4 million in scholarships to more than 400 of the nation’s top scholars.

With the support of the ASF and the Office of the Provost, up to two KU undergraduate students will be selected to receive a $10,000 scholarship during their junior or senior year. Nominations were sought from faculty members in all STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — for students with exceptional academic records and considerable research experience. A committee coordinated by the Office of Fellowships and chaired by Steven Hawley, KU professor of physics and former astronaut, selected the university’s candidates for the award. This winners of the scholarship will be announced later this spring.

The ASF Board of Directors selected KU to join the program based upon 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.

The four students:

  • Emily Boyd, a junior from Moran majoring in chemistry
  • Joseph Loomis, a junior from Pratt majoring in chemistry and biochemistry
  • Brianna Marsh, a junior from St. Louis majoring in neuroscience and minoring in social and behavioral sciences methodology
  • Zachary Wood, a junior from Eureka, Missouri, majoring in chemistry and minoring in mathematics.

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 Assistant Professor James Blakemore in the Department of Chemistry, researching organometallic chemistry and catalysis. She has presented her work at a regional meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and will present this month at the ACS national meeting. Earlier this semester, she was selected as a Goldwater Scholar.

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 Associate Professor Michael Johnson in the chemistry department 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. Earlier this semester he was selected as a Goldwater Scholar.

Brianna Marsh is the daughter of Pat and Eva Marsh of Wildwood, Missouri. A graduate of Eureka High School, Marsh is majoring in neuroscience and minoring in social and behavioral sciences methodology. At KU she is currently working in the lab of Jonathan Brumberg in the Department 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 Professor Jacob Moskovitz in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, on artificial neural network design in the Department of Mathematics with Professor Jarod Hart, and on neurolinguistics and language processing in the linguistics department with Professor Robert Fiorentino. 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.

Zachary Wood is the son of Anne Wood and Charles Wood of Eureka, Missouri. A graduate of Eureka High School, Wood intends to focus on the design of environmentally friendly functional materials in his research career. He works in the lab of Professor Mikhail Barybin in the chemistry department researching the design of electron-rich compounds that may serve as highly conductive molecular rectifiers. Wood has presented at several local and regional conferences and two national meetings of the American Chemical Society. Earlier this semester he was named an Honorable Mention from the Goldwater Foundation.