A Morgantown native studying astrophysics at West Virginia University has won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the nations premier award for undergraduate college students pursuing careers in math, the natural sciences or engineering.

Junior Brian R. Kent is the 22nd WVU student to capture the honor since the program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the late Sen. Barry M. Goldwater.

Kent is among 309 college sophomores and juniors from 50 states and Puerto Rico to be awarded the scholarship for the 2002-2003 academic year. This years Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,155 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.

“Brian is an outstanding student and very worthy of the Goldwater Scholarship,”commented Honors Program Director Keith Garbutt.”He is a very intelligent and committed young man, and is an example of the fine students we have conducting research as undergraduates.”

Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Dean Duane Nellis added,”I am so pleased for Brian and for the faculty members in the Department of Physics who have nurtured his considerable talent. Prestigious honors like this underscore WVU ’s role as the state’s flagship research and educational institution.”

Nellis said Kent is the 16th student from the Eberly College to capture the award.

Kent has participated in undergraduate research with Dr. James R. Webb, a professor at Florida International University, and also traveled to Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona to study active galactic nuclei and analyzed and interpreted data.

He plans to continue his studies this summer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenbank.

Following graduation in May 2003 with a B.S. in physics, Kent hopes to earn a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics and pursue a research-oriented career at a university, observatory or other research facility.

He is a WVU Foundation Scholar, recipient of WVU s top academic scholarship, and was also named a 2001 Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Scholar. He is a member of Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honorary and Golden Key Honor Society.

He has served on the Eberly College Undergraduate Student Advisory Board, president of the Astronomy Club, secretary of the Society of Physics Students and participated in the College of Arts and Sciences Student Research Symposium.

He will have an article featured in an upcoming issue of the Journal of International Amateur-Professional Photoelectric Photometry (IAPPP), a publication that facilitates collaborative astronomical research between amateur, student and professional astronomers. Kent is a graduate of Morgantown High School and the son of Robert and Linda Kent of Morgantown. Robert Kent is director of Career Services at WVU .