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Two UK Students Recognized by Goldwater Scholarship Program


By Whitney Hale

Two University of Kentucky students have been recognized by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program for 2012. Sophomore Josiah Hanna, of Lexington, and junior David Spencer, of Paducah, Ky., received honorable mention recognition from the scholarship program.

This year’s Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,123 mathematics, science, and engineering students who were nominated by colleges and universities nationwide.

Josiah Hanna, son of David and Sarah Hanna, is a Paul Laurence Dunbar High School alumnus. He is pursuing majors in computer science and mathematics and a minor in cognitive science. A Chellgren Student Fellow, Hanna is also a member of the Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) and Triangle Fraternity.

Hanna has been performing research that focuses on artificial intelligence planning under uncertainty with Judy Goldsmith, professor of computer science in the College of Engineering.

"My research adviser has been very influential in my development as a researcher," said Hanna. "I’ve learned a lot about every aspect of doing research."

As a sophomore, Hanna is eligible to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship once more and is already looking to next year’s competition.

"As a Goldwater Honorable Mention, I’m hoping to be very competitive next year for the Goldwater Scholarship," Hanna said.

Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Hanna plans to pursue a doctorate in computer science with a focus on artificial intelligence.

David Spencer, son of Malinda and Stephen Spencer, is a graduate of Lone Oak High School. He is pursuing a degree in chemical engineering. Spencer is the president-elect for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and an active member of Tau Beta Pi Honor Society and Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity.

Spencer has been involved in undergraduate research for two years under the leadership of J. Zach Hilt, an associate professor of chemical engineering.

"Dr. J. Zach Hilt has been my adviser since I started research, and he encouraged me to get the most out of my undergraduate experience," Spencer said.

The junior also credits the Bucks for Brains Summer Research Program for allowing him "to get a more in-depth research experience."

Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Spencer plans to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering.

Hanna and Spencer were made aware of the Goldwater Scholarship through the university’s Office of External Scholarships, part of the Division of Undergraduate Education at UK. The Office of External Scholarships assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency), outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation.