Appalachian Geology student recipient of prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

BOONE - Devin Hoffman, junior Geology major and concentration in Paleontology, was recently awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship in Excellence in Education. Devin was awarded the scholarship for his current research, Phytosaur Tooth Enamel Microstructure Taxonomic and Paleoecological Implications, at Appalachian State University.

The Goldwater Scholarship, as it is better known, was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater. The purpose of the Goldwater Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.

Devin HoffmanDevin, who originally hails from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and Wake Forest, North Carolina, is a member of the Appalachian Geological Society and the Mountaineer Organization of Student Scientists. He is also a member of the Honors College.

The Goldwater Scholarship is extremely competitive and highly sought after. To qualify students must first apply to a committee at their respective school in order to receive a nomination for application. The second part of the process involves the actual application to the Goldwater Scholarship.

"The Geology department and the Honors College were extremely important in enabling me to obtain the Goldwater Scholarship," says Devin. "The Department of Geology supports numerous student research projects, including my own, and helps its students be competitive for prestigious scholarships such as the Goldwater. Dr. Heckert, a professor in the Department of Geology, and my research adviser, gave me a great deal of help in writing the research proposal, and Dr. Wheeler from the Honors College also gave me a lot of assistance in both the proposal and application, as well as working with the Goldwater Foundation."

With the assistance of the Goldwater Scholarship, Devin's future endeavors include publishing his current research project (Phytosaur tooth enamel microstructure), and beginning to work on new research for his senior thesis (Computed tomography reconstruction of the internal skeletal anatomy of an aetosaur). After graduating from Appalachian, Devin plans to attend graduate school to advance towards a doctorate degree, and eventually become a vertebrate paleontologist teaching and researching at the university level.

"Earning a Goldwater Scholarship will be important for Devin for a long time to come," say Dr. Andrew Heckert, Devin's research advisor. "One of the things the Goldwater Scholarship does is showcase how he's competitive nationally, not just among his peers here at Appalachian. This scholarship cements his credentials as an outstanding science student, as it requires not just great grades, but also demonstrable undergraduate research experience. This scholarship is also important to Appalachian, as it's our second Goldwater winner in the last few years, and shows that our top science undergraduates are competitive at the national level. Indeed, this year there were only three winners in the whole state of North Carolina, so Devin is representing us well."

Published: May 9, 2016 12:57pm