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Science Talent Expansion Program

CWU STEP Student Awarded Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — Central Washington University junior Troy Kilburn has been named a 2012 Goldwater Scholar in Mathematics, Science and Engineering, one of just six in Washington State. The Lake Stevens native will graduate in 2013 with a double major in chemistry and physics, and a mathematics minor. He maintains a 3.885 cumulative grade point average, has been on the Dean's List since 2009, and is a member in both the Phi Kappa Phi and the Sigma Pi Sigma Honor Societies.

Kilburn's research explores strategies for developing alternative-energy light sources using rare earth minerals.

"It's an exciting field, just exploding," said Kilburn, who plans to use his advanced research skills to explore renewable and alternate energy resources. He recently participated in research that involved splitting water molecules with sunlight.

Nationally, 282 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 students who were nominated by faculties of colleges and universities. The one- and two-year scholarships are funded up to $7,500 per year. The Goldwater Scholar award is the premier award for outstanding undergraduates interested in careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. 

CWU is the only comprehensive university in Washington to have a student named as a recipient of the award. Other awardees study at the state's research institutions, the University of Washington and Washington State University. Another student studies at Whitworth University.

Mike Jackson, chair of the CWU Department of Physics, said CWU's small class size and the university's commitment to undergraduate research gives students the opportunity for real discovery that often is rare at bigger institutions.

"Troy participated in the Science Talent Expansion Program, is a leader in the Chemistry Club, and has won numerous awards and accolades," said Jackson, adding that CWU's Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education promotes best practices in teaching and learning in math and the sciences. "Troy is an excellent example of what students can accomplish if they choose to attend CWU."

"Troy is an outstanding student academically and in the research lab," said Anthony Diaz, CWU professor of chemistry, and one of Troy's faculty mentors. "He is very intelligent, works carefully in the lab, and has the kind of patience necessary for successful scientific research. I expect Troy's work to lead to a peer-reviewed publication before he graduates."

When Kilburn is not in the lab, he volunteers as a White Pass Cross Country camp counselor and as First Lutheran Church youth group mentor for middle- and high-school youth.

Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 78 Rhodes Scholarships, 112 Marshall Awards, 104 Churchill Scholarships and other distinguished fellowships. The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the US Senate.


Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,

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