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A few days ago, Megan Bagley won a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.
She just didn't know it.
"They didn't send me anything, they just posted the names of the winners on their Web site," says Bagley, a University of Wyoming sophomore with a double major in astronomy and biology. "(Honors Program Director) Duncan Harris was checking very frequently and he finally told me, ‘You should go look.'"
As one of 321 winners nationwide from a pool of 1,035 nominees, Bagley will receive a scholarship that covers tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
"This," says Harris, "is a pretty big deal."
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program, established by Congress in 1986, encourages students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, science and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is widely regarded as the premier undergraduate award of its type in these fields.
The daughter of David and Catherine Bagley of Laramie, Megan plans to pursue a research career and hopes to work with NASA or as a university professor. Her father is department head and an associate professor of civil and architectural engineering at UW.
"She seems to have a real passion for learning and I have no doubt that with that motivation she'll go on to graduate school, complete her doctorate degree and find a position that interests her," says Chip Kobulnicky, an assistant professor in UW's Department of Physics and Astronomy and one of Bagley's mentors. "She's certainly a capable and motivated young woman and an example of somebody who's really making the most of the opportunities available to her here at the University of Wyoming."
Since the first semester of her freshman year, Bagley has been working under Kobulnicky's supervision on a research project on galaxy evolution. She presented a project poster at the American Astronomical Society's bi-annual meeting in February and is working on a paper she hopes will be published.
A graduate of Robert Bateman High School in Burlington, Ontario, near Toronto, Bagley is a member of the University Honors Program, the Cardinal Key National Honor Society and the UW chapter of Delta Delta Delta.
Recently, Bagley was also accepted to Mortar Board, which recognizes UW students who excel in and out of the classroom, based on scholarship, leadership and service.
Bagley was one of just two students from Wyoming to be recognized by the Goldwater program this year. Cheyenne's Elizabeth Carlton, a junior biology major at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, also earned a scholarship.
The Goldwater Scholarship is named in honor of Barry M. Goldwater, a former Arizona senator who served the U.S. for 56 years as a soldier and statesman.