Two West Virginia University students have won Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, the nations premier award for undergraduate college students pursuing careers in math, the natural sciences or engineering.  Pictured above are Matthew Lechliter and Callee McConnell, winners of this prestigious honor.

This brings WVU s legacy of Goldwater Scholars to 21 since the scholarship program was established by Congress in 1986 in honor of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater.

This years Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,164 math, science and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 per year.

“I think the students at WVU , particularly those who are doing research, are competitive with any students in the nation, and I think our newest Goldwater Scholars are clear proof of that,”commented Honors Program Director Keith Garbutt.”Both Matthew and Callee are outstanding students and we are very proud of them. They are just a sample of the fine students we have conducting research as undergraduates.”

Lechliter, the son of James and Cindy Lechliter of Ridgeley, plans to continue his education by pursuing masters and doctoral degrees. He hopes to someday work for NASA , a national laboratory or an academic institution performing research in microgravity fluid physics and thermal sciences.

At WVU , Lechliter is conducting magnetothermosiphon research this semester and completed independent research last year under the supervision of John Loth, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. He currently works as a research assistant with Ismail Celik, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

A graduate of FrankfortHigh School, Lechliter is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, Golden Key National Honor Society, Sigma Gamma Tau aerospace engineering honorary and Tau Beta Pi civil and environmental engineering honorary. He attends WVU on a Mountaineer Scholarship.

McConnell, a graduate of Preston High School, is the daughter of Thomas and Rebecca McConnell of Terra Alta. She plans to continue her education by pursuing masters and doctoral degrees specializing in food sciences and hopes to work for a food company or research university.

McConnell, who has worked on her familys beef, sheep and vegetable farm all her life, says she became interested in food sciences during a meat technology course taught by P. Brett Kenney, associate professor of animal science in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences. She now works with Kenney as a lab worker in the food science laboratory.

During her time at WVU , McConnell has held a state office in the Future Farmers of America organization. She is a member of Helvetia sophomore honorary, Golden Key National Honor Society and the Block and Bridle Club. She has received a Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Freshman Award and a Gamma Sigma Delta Outstanding Sophomore Award/Scholarship. She is also a recipient of a WVU Presidential Scholarship and an Iva Welch Everhart Scholarship.

WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. congratulated Lechliter and McConnell on being the Universitys latest Goldwater Scholars.

“I welcome Matthew and Callee to our growing legacy of success and look forward to watching them progress,”Hardesty said.”They join Mike Wood, who was recently selected as a Truman Scholar, in solidifying a strong scholastic reputation for West Virginia University.”

Lechliter and McConnell were the only West Virginia students to earn Goldwater Scholarships this year.