Two West Virginia University students, both majoring in physics, have won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the nations premier award for undergraduate college students pursuing careers in math, the natural sciences or engineering.

Anna Zaniewski, a sophomore from Morgantown, and Brendan McGeehan, a junior from New Manchester, bring WVU s total number of Goldwater Scholars to 24.

Zaniewski graduated from University High School in Morgantown and maintains a perfect 4.0 grade-point average at WVU . She attends the University on a Bucklew Scholarship, one of WVU s top academic awards, and won NASA s Space Grant Consortium Scholarship. She is a member of Sigma Pi Sigma physics honorary.

Zaniewski is also a member of Golden Key honorary and has received several WVU Certificates of Achievement. She is a member of the WVU Honors Program and was recently selected as a student representative to help select the Outstanding Teacher Award.

While she plans to earn a Ph.D., she is still considering different areas of specialization.

“I love many areas of physics, so I am still considering my options,”she said.”I do plan to work at a university and emphasize research and teaching.”

She also has participated in several outside activities related to her love of physics, including working as a high school intern in George Washington Universitys Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program and assisting a WVU physics professor in designing an on-line physics course. She is currently employed by Dr. Earl Scime, who directs WVU s plasma physics laboratory.

Additionally, she is vice president of the Astronomy Club, does volunteer work at a local homeless shelter and is a member of the Sierra Club, among other activities.

Brendan McGeehan, a junior from New Manchester, plans to pursue a research career in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

“My career goal is to become a physicist,”said McGeehan,”and work toward achieving a controlled nuclear fusion reaction in order to provide a reliable supply of energy to our country and eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels.”

McGeehan is a WVU Presidential Scholar, a NASA Space Grant Consortium Scholar, a recipient of the 42nd Rainbow Division Scholarship and a member of Sigma Pi Sigma.

His father, McGeehan said, was the motivating force for him pursuing a career in science.

“No one activity comes to mind, but a collection of experiences with my father �€a former B-52 pilot �€come to mind.”

He explained that his father taught him about how the wings hold the plane up and why bombs have fins. His father also had an avid love of history, he said.

“I go through life remembering my father and trying to follow in his footsteps,”he said.”My goal in life is to make a difference, as he did.”

The Goldwater Scholarship award was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the late Sen. Barry Goldwater. Zaniewski and McGeehan are among 309 college sophomores and juniors from 50 states and Puerto Rico to be awarded the scholarship for the 2003-2004 academic year.

Goldwater Scholars are 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.

“Both Anna and Brendan are outstanding students and very worthy of the Goldwater Scholarship,”commented Honors Program Director Keith Garbutt.”They are both very intelligent and committed young adults and are excellent examples 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 the both of them and for the faculty members in the Department of Physics who have nurtured their considerable talent. Prestigious honors like this underscore WVU ’s role as the state’s flagship research and educational institution.”

McGeehan and Zaniewski are the 17th and 18th WVU students from the EberlyCollege to capture the award.