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St. Ignatius MSU Student Wins Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

BOZEMAN – Two students who have contributed to research in zoonotic diseases and optical sensing for detecting algal blooms in waterways are Montana State University’s latest recipients of the prestigious National Goldwater Scholarships honoring undergraduate academic and research excellence in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Brooklin Hunt, a junior majoring in microbiology and biotechnology from St. Ignatius, and Shannon Hamp, a junior majoring in electrical and computer engineering from Broomfield, Colorado, are the two new MSU recipients of the Barry Goldwater Fellowship award. and excellence in education. Foundation.

The foundation announced last week that 417 undergraduate students had been awarded the competitive scholarships honoring the nation’s top undergraduate students pursuing research in STEM fields. The scholarship comes with a stipend of up to $7,500 per year for tuition, books, room, and board. MSU is one of the top colleges and universities nationally in number of students who have received the prestigious awards with a total of 84 since the scholarship’s inception in 1989.

Hamp, who belongs to a family of second-generation MSU electrical engineers, helps develop and test imaging systems that detect algal blooms in the Optical Remote Sensor Laboratory group of Joe Shaw, professor emeritus of engineering. Electrical at Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering. Hunt, who works in the lab of Raina Plowright in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology at the College of Agriculture, studies the spread of viruses that cross species, from bats to horses or humans. His research applies to understanding the origin and spread of contagious disease, which includes the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“Montana State is proud to continue to nurture extraordinary Goldwater scholars,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “We are honored that each of these two talented scholars, who are conducting research that could have a lasting positive impact on our world, have chosen our land-grant university to help them on their journey.”

Hamp said she became involved in research at Shaw’s optics lab from the start of her time at MSU. Although she grew up in Colorado, Hamp’s parents, Charlie and Heidi, met when they were students at MSU and Hamp said she always wanted to study electrical engineering at MSU, like her father. had done it. Additionally, Hamp’s grandparents, Butch and Charlie, ran a popular store and cafe in downtown Bozeman called Charlie’s. Former Honors Director Michael Miles connected Hamp to Shaw, and she initially worked in his optics lab researching the optical transmission of 3D printing materials. Since then, she has been conducting research at the crossroads of optics and ecology, working with hyper-spectral drones that detect images of algal blooms in rivers. This summer, Hamp plans to do market research on the viability of multispectral imagers capable of detecting harmful river algae. Such devices may have applications including being mounted on a drone or bridge to allow continuous imaging of algae.

“Shannon has been a core member of my research group since her first day at MSU,” Shaw said. “She was my first student to be the first author of a journal article in sophomore year. Whether it was wading in a river to help with sampling, flying a drone, or making painstaking optical measurements in the lab , Shannon is a creative and energetic seeker.”

Hamp said winning a Goldwater Fellowship is validation of her work as a scientist.

“It’s really a great way to see how far I’ve come in research,” Hamp said.

Hamp intends to pursue a doctorate in optics with a career that combines optics with applications in ecology. Hamp is a Cameron Scholar at Honors College and is the president of the Bridger Solar Team which is building a solar-powered car. She is a member of the MSU Student Chapter of the International Society of Optics and Photonics and an Ambassador for the College of Engineering.

Hunt, a double major in pre-veterinary microbiology and animal systems biotechnology with a minor in animal genetics, is a first-generation student who said she decided she would attend MSU when she visited college. as part of an enrichment program in biosciences in eighth grade.

“I immediately loved the campus and the people,” she said. During her first semester, she overheard Plowright’s lecture and said she asked if Plowright had room for an undergraduate in her lab. Hunt’s most recent research has focused on bat viruses and the processes they use to jump from species to species, from bats to horses or humans. Understanding these viruses, viral shedding, and how bat health relates to spillovers and the immune system has proven important to the science of the recent pandemic, she said.

“Great scientists start at an early age,” Plowright said. “Brooklin is driven by curiosity and big questions. She developed our bat hematology research program and is an integral part of our lab. She so deserves this honor.

Hunt, who plans to earn a doctorate in veterinary medicine with a career in veterinary pathology, also won a Fulbright to study veterinary microbiology at the University of Saskatchewan this summer. She is a Cameron Scholar at Honors College and a McNair and TRIO Scholar.

“Learning that I won a Goldwater was a ‘successful moment’ in research,” she said. “As a first-generation student, I wouldn’t have guessed that I could have won this award when I was growing up. It’s a great way to start a college career.

Hunt is also Vice President of the MSU Fly Fishing Club and an avid angler.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of our Goldwater Scholars and congratulate them both on winning this prestigious scholarship,” said Sreekala Bajwa, Vice President of MSU and Dean of the College of Agriculture. “This is a testament to the caliber of our students, the quality of our programs, and the dedication of the faculty members who train our students in the classrooms and in their labs.”

Ilse-Mari Lee, dean of the MSU Honors College where Hamp and Hunt are students, said Hamp and Hunt are exceptional students who have been encouraged and inspired by extraordinary mentor teachers.

“It was a privilege for me to watch them fly away,” Lee said. “Their future is incredibly bright.”

This year’s 417 Goldwater recipients nationwide were selected from a pool of 1,242 natural science, engineering and math students nominated by 433 academic institutions. For more information on Goldwater scholarships, visit