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Lamar student receives prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

keeley smithKeeley Townley-Smith, a physics and electrical engineering major at Lamar University, has been selected as the second Lamar student to receive the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by the United States Congress in 1986 in honor of former United States Senator and 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, a republican from Arizona. Its goal is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

Recently named as one of two David J. Beck Fellows selected for 2014, Townley-Smith plans to complete an internship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md. with the atomic spectroscopy group this summer and graduate in May 2016.

“Lamar University has provided me countless opportunities,” she said. “I have had the chance to do research as an undergraduate, participate in several conferences and of course, obtaining two degrees which I can use to get a good job in the future.”

The Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate award given in the sciences to only 300 college sophomores and juniors nationwide. A maximum of $7,500 per academic year is granted.  The scholarship is awarded based on merit and the actual amount given is based on financial need.

“Keeley has crafted an enviable undergraduate record,” said Steve Doblin, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We are very proud of her and her accomplishments and cannot wait to see what is next for her.”

Townley-Smith first heard of the Goldwater Scholarship back in fall 2012 when Joseph Young, Lamar's first Goldwater recipient, came to talk to students about his physics research and getting into graduate school.

“He mentioned the Goldwater award,” she said. “But at the time, I wouldn't have even dreamed to apply for it, let alone receive the honor. This scholarship is not so much about the money but more about the prestige that it will bring to Lamar University and me when I apply to graduate school.”

She chose to attend Lamar University because it was close to home, generous in scholarship money and had the good campus environment she wanted. She also said that she was drawn to the prominence of the renowned LU engineering program.

Townley-Smith is involved in the STAIRSTEP program and the physics honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma. She is planning to go to graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in physics and engineering. The opportunity to conduct research on a daily basis in the areas of optics, atomic and molecular physics would be her dream job.

“I would be happy at either a university or national institution,” she said. “At some point in my life, I would also like to teach.”

For more information about the Goldwater Scholarship, visit https://goldwater.scholarsapply.org/.