Two Iowa State University students are 2011 Goldwater Scholars

AMES, Iowa -- Two Iowa State University students have been named Goldwater Scholars and a third student received an honorable mention in the nation's premier undergraduate scholarship award in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. The scholarships were announced at Iowa State today by the University Honors Program, which coordinates nominations and applications.

Nathaniel Looker.

The Goldwater Scholars are Chloe Dedic, a mechanical engineering major from Mason City, and Nathaniel Looker, a global resource systems and agronomy major from Des Moines. Mischa Olson, biology major from Iowa City, received an honorable mention. All three are third-year students.

The 275 Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,095 students who were 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 a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Chloe Dedic

Chloe Dedic, who was first in her 2008 graduating class at Mason City High School, has been involved in undergraduate research experiences at Iowa State since her freshman year. As part of the First-year Honors Mentor Program, she worked with laser diagnostic techniques to analyze combustion systems in the Mechanical Engineering Department's Multiphase Reacting Flow Laboratory. She has continued as a researcher there, working on the laser diagnostic technique called CARS (Hybrid femtosecond/picosecond coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering). The technique is used to better understand complex combustion reactions and can help adapt existing combustion infrastructure for biomass-derived fuels.

"My favorite part of conducting research is the idea that there is no answer key," said Dedic, who works on the system alignment, data collection and analysis, and co-authored a research conference publication.

"Because you may be only one of several people in the world researching a specific topic, no one yet knows the answer and there is rarely one correct answer. Although this can be frustrating at times, it's extremely rewarding when you do discover a possible solution, or even when you begin to understand what is happening and why," she said.

Dedic also is involved in a wide variety of campus activities. She is in the ISU Wind Ensemble, a member of the Water Polo Club and Engineers Without Borders. She has been a Women in Science and Engineering learning community peer mentor, an Ames Middle School mentor and a lector at her church.

A member of ISU's Honors Program and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Dedic has won several competitive scholarships and competitions. Next spring, she will begin the concurrent Master's/Bachelor's program at Iowa State and plans to pursue her Ph.D. and an academic career.

"I'm extremely interested in the research and development of new scientific processes," Dedic said.

"Chloe is admirably a complete student, excelling in academics, research, service and interpersonal skills," said Terry Meyer, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. "Add her energy and enthusiasm, and I have no doubt that Chloe will be successful in any engineering or scientific endeavor she chooses to pursue."

Nathaniel Looker

Looker has served as an undergraduate research assistant in the Ecohydrology Laboratory in ISU's Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, and in the Agronomy Department's Weed Science Laboratory. He has worked on projects concerning nutrient cycling, erosion and hydrology in mixed systems of annual row crops and perennial prairie species and carbon cycling in an oak savanna restoration. He has used micrographic techniques to document the diversity of the seed morphology of the weed lamb's quarters.

This semester, Looker is on a research internship at the Universidad Rafael Landivar in Guatemala, measuring transpiration in a cloud forest. He is working with a Guatemalan Ph.D. student who is modeling hydrological balances in a watershed in the country's arid corridor.

"The project relates ecosystems to stream flow as a way of demonstrating the practical societal benefits of conservation," Looker said.

"Nate has a passion for learning about global resource systems and takes opportunities that allow him to develop as a professional," said Gail Nonnecke, University Professor and faculty coordinator of global resource systems. "In his studies and experiences, Nate continues to demonstrate that he is an outstanding person in both academics and service. He is especially deserving of the recognition."

Looker plans on earning a Ph.D. in landscape ecology and conducting research for an international research institution or university.

"I want to analyze the ecological dimensions of international development. I'll focus on the measurement of ecosystem functions in ecologically and economically vulnerable locations in Latin America," he said.

Looker was valedictorian of his Dowling High School class in 2008, and served as a World Food Prize Borlaug-Ruan Intern at the International Potato Center in Peru that summer. He has participated in a Uganda School Garden service-learning program and has served as a peer mentor in the GLOBE learning community. A National Merit Scholar, Looker is a member of the University Honors Program. He's active in the International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences, ISU's Student Organic Farm and is a disc jockey on the student radio station.

Looker also won the prestigious Udall Scholarship. It is believed to be the first time an Iowa State student has been named both a Goldwater Scholar and Udall Scholar.

The Goldwater Scholarships are presented by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, which was established in 1986 as a federally endowed agency. The scholarship program fosters and encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. The foundation has awarded more than 6,600 scholarships worth about $50 million. Many Goldwater Scholars go on to earn Rhodes Scholarships, Marshall Awards, Churchill Scholarships and other distinguished fellowships.