Since its earliest days, women at Utah State University have had a huge impact on the cultural, scientific, economic, and social fabric of the institution. The Year of the Woman shares these critical voices simply because their stories matter.
Research has been the pinnacle of learning at Utah State University since its founding. With the initial campus plan including an experiment station, faculty and students have consistently had space to conduct studies and experiments. Today, USU has numerous buildings on and off campus which bolster students’ ability to test the limits of what is known and work hard to discover what is not yet known.
On March 27, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation announced the 2020 Goldwater Scholars. The Goldwater Scholarship recognizes excellence in science and mathematics and is competed for by students nationwide. Among this year’s 396 awardees out of more than 1,300 applicants are three Aggies. Since 1998, USU has been home to 34 Goldwater Scholars and 16 honorable mention recipients. Today, we recognize the 13 Aggie women who have received this prestigious award and promote women in STEM. Four others have received Honorable Mention: Sydney Chamberlin (2008), Karen Nielson Son (2011), Rachel Ward (2012), and Caroline Bourgeois (2016).
Jenny R. Whiteley – 2020
Cache Valley native Jenny Whiteley decided on a major in physics after a demonstration in an introductory course at USU. During her time at USU, Whiteley has pursued a number of research projects and been the recipient of several awards, including USU Physics’ O. Harry Otteson Award, a Peak Summer Research Fellowship, a James E. Brown Scholarship and a College of Science Scholarship. Whiteley plans to pursue a doctoral degree in physics following her graduation from USU. She has an interest in light experimentation and hopes to discover and invent new ways to use the power of light.
Kathryn “Katie” Sweet – 2015
Katie Sweet discovered her passion for science through a combined math and physics course she took in high school. Through the mentoring of high school teachers, Sweet was able to discover an interest that guided her in further academic studies. In addition to science, Sweet enjoyed tennis and was on the USU Tennis team. Utah State University provided her with a place to pursue what she loves: athletics and academics.
Through excellent time management and a desire to do her best, Sweet was able to balance classes, research, and athletics. During her time as an undergraduate, Sweet was a Mountain West Academic All-Conference Scholar Athlete Award recipient, 2015 Barry Goldwater Scholar, and the 2018 College of Science Valedictorian, graduating with bachelor’s degrees in physics, mathematics, and computer science. Sweet is a platform engineer with Propeller Health in Madison, Wisconsin. The company provides digital health services for people with chronic respiratory conditions.
Rachel Nydegger Rozum – 2014
While the rest of campus was sleeping, Rachel Nydegger Rozum spent her nights for several months collecting data on light pollution around the USU Logan campus, with her research focusing on the broader effects of light pollution.
Rozum graduated high school in 2011 and was awarded an Aggie Scholar Scholarship. During her time at USU, Rozum earned a bachelor’s degree in physics, was awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship in 2014, received Utah’s New Century Scholarship and an Energy Solutions Scholarship. Rozum could also be found volunteering for Science Unwrapped and the College of Science’s outreach program. Rozum’s studies continued as she has pursued a doctorate in ecology at Pennsylvania State University. Her research in crop management practices led to Rozum being honored with a 2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. At Penn State, she works on modeling of water and nutrients in agriculture and natural systems and development of simulation platforms for environmental assessment.
Sarah Mousley– 2012
Spending summers mastering algebra, trigonometry and calculus, Sarah Mousley had an interest in math since childhood. Through hard work, she entered USU as a USU Presidential Scholar and Undergraduate Research Fellow. As an undergrad, she completed a competitive National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of North Carolina, Asheville in 2011, was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2012, coauthored a paper on Hamiltonian Graphs, and tutored her fellow students at the Math and Stats tutoring lab.
She graduated from USU in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with an Actuarial Science emphasis. She received her Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2019 and has a postdoctoral fellowship at Lawrence Livermore National Lab in its Center for Applied Scientific Computing.
Brooke Siler – 2011
Siler started her college career with numerous awards and scholarships, entering USU as a Presidential Scholar, Sterling Scholar and a Huntsman Scholar. As an undergraduate, her research focused on chemical and molecular signaling processes which take place at the neurological level. In addition to her work in Biochemistry, Siler also pursued a degree in Economics. Her numerous extra-curricular activities included participating in USU’s study abroad program, the Rotaract Club, Science Unwrapped Student Corp, the Society for International Business and Economic Development and USU’s Women in Science and Medicine organization.
Siler graduated in 2014 with bachelor’s degrees in Biochemistry and Economics with a 4.0 GPA and as the Huntsman School of Business Valedictorian and then earned a Master’s degree in Financial Economics. Brooke Siler Roach is an Equity Research Associate at Goldman Sachs in New York.
Linsey Johnson – 2011
Linsey Johnson found an interest in mathematics when she was living in Hungary as a child. Attending school, she didn’t know the language, but math offered her a place to excel on her own. Johnson shared her interest in math and physics with others throughout her high school years by organizing science demonstrations for local fifth grade classes and holding science camps in her parents’ backyard.
Johnson’s enthusiasm for math and science were fostered through her education at USU. As a member of USU’s Society of Physics student chapter, Johnson organized community outreach activities which reached more than 4,000 individuals of all ages. She also served as the student representative to the steering committee and founder of the Science Unwrapped Student Corp. In addition to numerous honors from the Department of Physics and her national recognition as a Goldwater Scholar, Johnson served as a University Undergraduate Research Fellow. Following graduation, she studied at Purdue University, obtaining a Masters of Education in 2014, and married Scott Jensen.
Taren McKenna – 2009
Taren McKenna was named a Goldwater Scholar as a sophomore for her research in the technical applications of small plasma systems. A recipient of a USU Presidential Scholarship, McKenna chose to study physics and mathematics during her time at USU. For her excellence and scholarship, she was a recipient of a College of Science Research mini-grant, the 2008 Math Department Outstanding First-Year Student Award, the 2008 O. Harry Otteson Award, and was among the first recipients of the Space Dynamics Laboratory Women in Science Scholarship. She received her master’s degree in science education at USU and taught at middle and high schools.
Taren McKenna Going entered the PhD program in Mathematics Education at Michigan State University in 2016. Her research interests include inquiry-based and student-centered instruction, how to bring a broad, inclusive and motivating vision of math to diverse students, proof and reasoning in the middle school, and ambitious math teaching in the middle school.
Tamara Jeppson – 2008
Tamara Jeppson graduated from USU in 2009 with bachelor’s degrees in geology in physics. As an undergraduate research assistant, she worked with her faculty mentor to study how earthquake energy is partitioned along the San Andreas Fault. Jeppson went on to obtain a Master’s in Geophysics (2014) and a Ph.D. in Geoscience (2017) from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a postdoctoral researcher at U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.
Jodie Barker Tvedtnes Ream– 2008
Jodie Barker Ream transferred to USU upon completion of an associate’s degree from Salt Lake Community College, earning a Presidential Transfer Scholarship. She began her academic career in classics but later switched her focus to physics, graduating with a major in physics and minors in mathematics and classics.
In addition to winning the Goldwater Scholarship in 2008, Ream was named a Goldwater Honorable Mention recipient in 2007. While at USU, Ream served as president of Utah State’s Society for Physics Students chapter, received a 2008 Outstanding Student Award for Undergraduate Research from the National Society for Physics Students and presented at numerous research conferences.
Ream now works as a Space Physicist at MIT following the completion of her Ph.D. at the University of California in 2015.
Jennifer Albretsen Roth – 2007
At the time of her reception of the Goldwater Scholarship, Jennifer Albretsen Roth was only a second-year physics major, but this is not the beginning of her academic recognition. Albretsen Roth was an Honors student, served as an Honors Fellow, and was selected for a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) following her freshman year.
Albretsen Roth’s NSF experience changed her academic perspective and helped solidify her interest in participating in scientific discovery. At the time of the awarding of the Goldwater Scholarship, her goals included earning a doctorate in physics and inspiring future scientists in an academic setting.
Following her graduation from USU, Albretsen Roth attended Oregon State University to pursue graduate studies in physics.
Heidi Wheelwright Johnson – 2006
Heidi Wheelwright transferred from Utah Valley State College (presently Utah Valley University) to USU to pursue undergraduate research. Upon transferring, Wheelwright was awarded the Utah State Presidential Transfer Scholarship. When Wheelwright was just 18 years old at the time of receiving the Goldwater Scholarship. Upon reception, Wheelwright was planning to pursue a doctorate in nanotechnology and nano electronics.
Stephanie J. Chambers Thomas – 2004
Stephanie Chambers Thomas entered USU as a research savvy freshman. Having heard of Dr. Joyce Kinkead’s plan to ramp up USU’s undergraduate research efforts, Thomas approached Dr. Kinkead saying she would like to help. Hired as a research assistant, Thomas began to help in the planning of USU’s undergraduate program. In addition to her work with Dr. Kinkead, Thomas spent three years in a biology lab studying cell signaling and researching cardiac regulatory protein activity, and two years working in a chemistry and biochemistry lab where she continued her research in cell signaling. In 2004, Thomas was named a Goldwater scholar for research on cardiac regulatory proteins.
Thomas was also a strong supporter of women pursuing post-graduate education, a view she promoted in her peer advisory role in the Department of Biology and as president of USU’s Women in Science and Medicine Group. Thomas’ goal in supporting other women in post-graduate and professional education was to demonstrate to women that it is possible to balance their dream career with family life.
Following her time at USU, Thomas attended the University of Utah School of Medicine, and she now serves as a family medicine physician at Intermountain South Cache Valley Clinic. Dr. Thomas was honored in 2017 as the recipient of the USU Center for Women in Gender’s Early Career Achievement Award.
Lara B. Anderson – 2001
Lara B. Anderson is one of USU’s most highly acclaimed scholars. Graduating as the 2003 College of Science Valedictorian and the University Valedictorian, Anderson was an excellent student and researcher. Immersing herself in research early in her undergraduate career, she dedicated time each week to her projects. During her time at USU, Anderson was named a Rhodes Scholar, a Marshall Scholar, a Goldwater Scholar, and a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow. After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math and physics (’03, MS ’04) at USU, Anderson attended Oxford University to earn her Ph. D. in Mathematical Physics. She is now employed on the faculty of Virginia Tech as a part of the Department of Physics.
The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established by Public Law 99-661 on November 14, 1986. The Scholarship Program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields.
Resources: Mary-Ann Muffoletto