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UW Student from Casper Receives Goldwater Scholarship

April 17, 2015
woman standing outside by building
Annette Estella Hein received a Goldwater Scholarship. (UW Photo)

University of Wyoming student Annette Estella Hein, a home-schooled student who became interested in science while hiking and experiencing nature in the geologic formations around Casper, has been awarded a Goldwater Scholarship.

It is a nationally competitive, merit-based award given to only 300 college juniors and seniors each year who show exceptional promise for a Ph.D. degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research career path. Among the most prestigious undergraduate awards given in the sciences, the scholarship covers tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Hein is the only student to have been awarded the honor in Wyoming this year. Since 2006, only four Goldwater awards have gone to UW students.

“Annette has earned such national recognition for her promise as a geoscience scholar,” says Hein’s mentor, Andrew Parsekian, assistant professor in the UW Department of Geology and Geophysics. “Even at this early stage in her career, she’s already immersed herself in geophysics research. I look forward to seeing what new discoveries she will make in the future.”

She was home-schooled by her parents, who grow a lot of their own food and sell produce at a farmers’ market in Casper. Her curiosity about rocks and the origins of geologic formations attracted her to geology, and her interest in the field was strengthened when she took science courses at Casper College before transferring to UW.

“The best part of my education has been outside of classes, getting to do some independent work in geology and working as a research assistant engaged with the subject,” she says.

Hein says she plans to go to graduate school, and eventually would like to work as a geologist in industry. She is particularly interested in water resources.

“That’s a big issue right now. You hear about droughts in California, where they are being told what they need to do with their water. I feel that may be coming to more states in the next several decades,” she says. “So we really need to understand what we can do to use resources to maintain a high standard of living.”

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