Science & Technology

USU's Gold Standard: Three Aggies are 2010 Goldwater Honorees

Two Utah State University students are 2010 Goldwater Scholars and one Aggie received honorable mention in a prestigious national competition established by Congress that recognizes outstanding undergraduate achievements in science and mathematics.
Daniel Fenn and Justin Koeln are recipients of the award, which is administered by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, and Robert Call received honorable mention. With this year’s honorees, USU boasts 15 Goldwater Scholars and six honorable mention recipients since 1998.
“This is a great honor for these students and a great honor for Utah State University,” said USU President Stan Albrecht. “This award is a testament to the stellar achievements of these individuals in academics and research, as well as the outstanding mentorship provided by our faculty members.”
Each year, USU may submit up to four nominations for the award; a process coordinated by the USU Honors program that begins in November. Scholarship award recipients receive up to $7,500 toward annual tuition and expenses. The 2010 honorees, who represent Utah State’s College of Science and College of Engineering, are actively involved in undergraduate research. In fact, each is pursuing some aspect of space-related research.
Daniel Fenn, physics
A Tremonton, Utah, native, Fenn says he “fell in love with physics” after reading Brian Greene’s book The Elegant Universe in the eighth grade. The 2004 graduate of Bear River High School earned a National Merit Scholarship and was also awarded a USU Presidential Scholarship.
Since his arrival at USU, the physics major has immersed himself in research of neutral-particle sensors at Space Dynamics Laboratory. He was actively involved SDL’s testing of the NASA and Naval Research Laboratory-designed Wind and Temperature Sensor, which measures thermospheric neutral wind properties.
“The experience became even more satisfying when a prototype version of the sensor was launched on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2009,” Fenn says. “A project in which I have been integrally involved now orbits the Earth; a fact that affords me a great deal of academic motivation.”
Beyond the lab, Fenn is an accomplished pianist and, as a result of serving an LDS mission in Brazil, has developed a deep appreciation for Brazilian culture, history and the Portuguese language.
Following graduation from USU in 2011, Fenn plans to pursue doctoral studies in physics and a possible career in the computer electronics industry.
“The computer electronics field is always evolving,” he says. “An understanding of the principles on which computer components are built will allow for innovations leading directly to the creation of novel and efficient computer equipment.”
Justin Koeln, mechanical and aerospace engineering
Upon his arrival at USU, Koeln immediately joined the Get Away Special space research team and has since racked up an impressive list of space research achievements. His work on the GAS team’s pico-satellite project honed his skills in design and construction and led to continued CubeSat research opportunities with USU’s Space Dynamics Laboratory.
Koeln and his GAS team members have developed several experiments that they hope will one day fly on the International Space Station. The team’s proposal for a nucleate boiling experiment, for which Koeln serves as project leader, won a coveted spot with NASA's 2010 Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program. The award affords Koeln and six team members the opportunity to travel to Houston’s Johnson Space Center during summer 2010 and conduct the experiment aboard NASA’s K-135 microgravity aircraft.
Koeln says his grandfather, who served the U.S. military as a mechanical engineer during World War II, inspired his interest in the field and his desire to pursue a similar career path.
“His interest in and his excitement for the classes I’m taking and my current research has motivated me to learn all that I can so that I can contribute to society as he has,” says Koeln, a 2007 graduate of Maryland’s Poolesville High School.
With guidance from faculty mentors Heng Ban, J.R. Dennison and Jan Sojka, Koeln has a technical article under review for publication in an international journal. The sole undergraduate presenter in the 2009 Frank J. Redd International Student Competition at the 23rd annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, he received an honorable mention for his submission. The recipient of multiple academic scholarships and awards, Koeln earned first place for his research presentation at the 2010 Utah Section of the Association of Mechanical Engineers’ “Student-in-Industry Day” competition. 
Robert Call, physics (Honorable Mention)
Call hails from the small community of Batesville, Ind., where he graduated as salutatorian from Batesville High School in 2005. The physics major shares a love of science and aviation with his father, a commercial pilot, and decided early in his teen years to pursue a scientific career.
With physics faculty mentors Jan Sojka, Mark Riffe and J.R. Dennison, Call has explored the absorption of radio waves in the upper atmosphere and researched methods to measure photoluminescence in quantum dots, which have applications in nanotechnology. He served as a summer intern in the Condensed Matter and Materials Division at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2009 and received high praise from the lab for his contributions.
Staff scientist Trevor Willey, Call’s mentor at LLNL, says the lab typically hires only graduate student interns and postdoctoral researchers but quickly recognized that Call could handle the responsibility.
A USU Undergraduate Research Fellow, Call is the recipient of USU’s A-Pin, the O. Harry Otteson Award in physics and the Nora W. Wonning Scholarship from his home community of Batesville. He currently serves as president of USU’s award-winning chapter of the Society of Physics Students. Following graduation from USU in 2011, Call plans to pursue doctoral studies in physics and a career in materials science aspects of energy studies.
“I want to contribute to research in alternative energy,” says Call, who experienced living in communities with unsustainable power supplies while serving an LDS mission in the Dominican Republic. “I hope to contribute to energy solutions that can alleviate those kinds of situations.”
Previous USU Goldwater Scholars
Taren McKenna, physics and mathematics
Cody Tramp, molecular biology and biochemistry
B.J. Myers, physics (Honorable Mention)
Jodie Barker-Tvedtnes, physics
Tamara Jeppson, geology and physics
Sydney Chamberlin, physics and mathematics (Honorable Mention)
Cody Tramp, molecular biology and biochemistry (Honorable Mention)
Jennifer Albretsen-Roth, physics
Arthur Mahoney, computer science and mathematics
Jodie Barker-Tvedtnes, physics (Honorable Mention)
Logan McKenna, electrical engineering
Heidi Wheelwright, physics
Keith Warnick, physics (Honorable Mention)
Stephanie Chambers, biology
David Hatch, physics
Jamie B. Jorgensen, physics
Lara B. Anderson, physics and mathematics
Jeff Jacobs, mechanical engineering
Related links:
Contact: Christie Fox, 435-797-2715,
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,
USU Goldwater honoreers

(L-R) Daniel Fenn (Goldwater Scholar), Robert Call (Honorable Mention) and Justin Koeln (Goldwater Scholar). Established by Congress, the prestigious national competition recognizes outstanding undergraduate achievements in science and mathematics.


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