News, student successes, and experiences from our Atypical High School.


Gatton Academy students participating in summer projects

Students from the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky are off to an active summer.

From research internships to community service projects in their home communities, recent graduates and rising high school seniors from the school are engaging across the Commonwealth, nation and world.

Fifty-nine Gatton Academy students will travel internationally for language acquisition, culture study, research and credit-based study abroad. Students will be in China, England, Ireland and Russia.

The Gatton Academy summer internship program started last November as students were introduced to various opportunities. Gatton Academy staff members and the Office of Scholar Development at WKU worked with students as they prepared applications for programs through the winter and spring.

This summer, 91 students are involved in some form of summer learning. Students’ plans are listed below.

National Science Foundation
Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs)

The following three students have been selected for prestigious REUs:

Nitin Krishna (’14) of Corbin will be a part of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis REU at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Connor VanMeter (’14) of Lexington will be a part of the Ohio State University Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry REU.
Gretchen Walch (’14) of Alexandria will be a part of the Biological Discovery in Woods Hole REU at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

Gatton Research Internship Grant recipients

In its fifth year, the Gatton Research Internship Grant program provides support funding for rising seniors to conduct summer research. Twenty-one students were chosen for summer 2014:

Dana Biechele-Speziale (’15) of Grayson will be working at the WKU Institute for Combustion Science (ICSET) with Dr. Yan Cao. She will study graphene as a material for energy storage.
Morgan Blair (’15) of Morehead will be doing research at the Morehead State University Department of Biology and Chemistry. He will be performing water tests to identify sources of contamination.
Samuel Booth (’15) of Owensboro will be researching with the WKU Department of Mathematics with mentorship from Dr. Claus Ernst. He will study knot theory and program development for theoretical mathematics.
Andrew Brown (’15) of Central City will work in the Theoretical Division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico with Dr. Xianzhu Tang studying plasma physics for magnetic fusion energy.
Justin Bunch (’15) of Elizabethtown will perform research at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center with mentorship from Dr. Theresa Fan. He will study lung cancer metabolism.
Erin Burba (’15) of Paducah will be conducting research at the University of Louisville’s Department of Biology with Dr. Sarah Emery. She will study cellulosic biofuel stock crops on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.
Lydia Buzzard (’15) of Hopkinsville will be using Google Glass to develop an app for WKU with a team of researchers under the mentorship of Dr. Uta Ziegler at the WKU Department of Computer Science.
Brian Carlson (’15) of Stanford will be programming to develop a model intermolecular Fluorescence with Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) under Dr. Wieb Vandermeer of the WKU Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Benjamin Guthrie (’15) of Bowling Green will be working at WKU’s Applied Physics Institute with Dr. Phillip Womble to study micro-sized nuclear power sources.
Logan Houchens (’15) of Crestwood will work with a team of researchers led by Dr. Uta Ziegler in the WKU Department of Computer Science to develop an app for WKU using Google Glass.
Brad Hull (’15) of Crestwood will research at the University of Louisville’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology under the mentorship of Dr. Donghoon Chung. He will study molecular interactions of virus replicase proteins.
Peter Kaminski (’15) of Owensboro will use Google Glass to develop an app for WKU with a team of researchers led by the WKU Department of Computer Science’s Dr. Uta Ziegler.
Elizaveta Khenner (’15) of Bowling Green will conduct research at Russia’s Perm State National Research University with Dr. Maria Kuyukina. Khenner will study the biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in a fluidized-bed bioreactor using immobilized Rhodococcus actinobacteria.
Paige Kington (’15) of Manitou will research with Dr. Ajay Srivastava in WKU’s Department of Biology. She will study the ability of Lunasin to suppress tumor migration/growth in the model organism Drosophila.
Dimitri Leggas (’15) of Lexington will continue research calculations of stationary scattering states in 1D problems. His work is mentored by Dr. Jeremy Maddox of the WKU Department of Chemistry.
Augustus Madsen (’15) of Cynthiana will be working at the WKU Institute for Combustion Science (ICSET) with Dr. Yan Cao.
Vir Patel (’15) of Hopkinsville will do research at Vanderbilt University’s Center for Human Genetics Research. He will use computational biology to trace evolutionary origins of different classes of human disease genes.
Valerie Richmond (’15) of Bowling Green will continue research with the WKU Department of Chemistry’s Dr. Matthew Nee. Her research uses infrared spectroscopy to study the effect of ionic strength on the structure of nitrate ion.
Ananya Sharma (’15) of Bowling Green will be studying how silver nanoparticles are taken up by various tissues in the model organism Drosophila in Dr. Ajay Srivastava’s lab at WKU’s Department of Biology.
William Walters (’15) of Lexington will continue research with Dr. Lance Hahn in the WKU Department of Psychological Sciences. He in mining Twitter data to study neurological actions of informal internet lexicon.
Jack Wassom (’15) of Bowling Green will be working with Dr. Muhammad Jahan in the WKU Department of Architectural and Manufacturing Sciences using the micro-EDM to study aerospace materials.

NCSSSMST Student Research Conference

Six Gatton Academy students are presenting research this summer at the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Math, Science, and Technology (NCSSSMST) Student Research Conference at the University of Louisville. From July 13-16, these students will join approximately 100 other students from across the country to share their research work through oral and poster presentations. Gatton Academy representatives and their presentation titles are:

Justin Bunch (’15) of Elizabethtown will give a presentation titled “Discovery and Genomic Comparison of Bacteriophages BustinJunch and Kimya”
Rachel Cook (’15) of Perryville will present “Discovery and Analysis of Mycobacteriophages Cookland and Enyo”
Julia Gensheimer (’15) of Bowling Green will present “Scalable Production of Reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO) from Graphite Oxide (GO)”
Dimitri Leggas (’15) of Lexington will present “Principles of Bipolar Superposition”
Rena Ryumae (’15) of Union will present a research poster titled “The association of a variant in IRF7 and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)”
Ananya Sharma (’15) of Bowling green will present “Characterization of Novel Mycobacteriophages Isolated from Different Locations in Kentucky”

Experiences Abroad

This summer, 59 Gatton Academy students will be traveling abroad for study.

National Security Language Initiative-for Youth (NSLI-Y)

Sarah Angelle (’14) of Monticello has received an NSLI-Y scholarship for six weeks of intensive Chinese study in China. The scholarship covers all program costs, travel to China, tuition, housing with a host family, activities, and more. These merit-based scholarships are for high school students studying less commonly taught languages.

Confucius Institute’s High School China Summer Bridge Program 2014

For two weeks in July, five students will travel to China visiting cultural sites and participating in language courses and learning traditional activities thanks to funding from the Confucius Institute’s Confucius Classroom program.

Dana Biechele-Speziale (’15) of Grayson
Annabeth Burke (’14) of Mt. Washington
Kain Kotoucek (’15) of Franklin
Logan Mitchell (’14) of Hebron
Joshua “Blake” Sutton (’15) of Franklin


Now in its fourth year, the Gatton Academy is once again partnering with Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, to offer a study abroad course. The following students will study Honors: Introduction to Literature with Professor Walker Rutledge of the WKU Department of English:

Katherine Allen (’15) of Kevil
Melissa Anderson (’15) of Frankfort
Meredith Bickett (’15) of Owensboro
Morgan Blair (’15) of Morehead
Michael Blankenship (’15) of Stopover
India Blasser (’15) of Henderson
Sam Booth (’15) of Owensboro
Anna Braun (’15) of Union
Shelbi Broeking (’15) of Winchester
Andrew Brown (’15) of Central City
Ian Canedo-Muzevic (’15) of Guthrie
Brian Carlson (’15) of Stanford
David Chamberlain (’15) of Winchester
Rachel Cook (’15) of Perryville
Jackeline Orozco Cruz (‘15) of Scottsville
Milan Doan (’15) of Paducah
Michael Evans (’15) of Beattyville
Courtney George (’15) of Maysville
Benjamin Guthrie (’15) of Bowling Green
Sarah Herricks (’15) of Paducah
Logan Houchens (’15) of Crestwood
Cameron Hubbard (’15) of Louisville
Bradford Hull (’15) of Crestwood
Taha Husain (’15) of Lexington
Peter Kaminski (’15) of Owensboro
Allyson King (’15) of Florence
Paige Kington (’15) of Manitou
Dimitri Leggas (’15) of Lexington
Kelly Lynch (’15) of Glasgow
Noah Maikranz (’15) of Beaver Dam
Anna Mayo (’15) of Henderson
Kelly McKenna (’15) of Crestwood
Tyler Meeks (’15) of Custer
John Meyers (’15) of Lexington
Melissa Murphy (’15) of Owensboro
Hailey O’Hair (’15) of Jackson
NaKeya Owens (’15) of London
Jonathan Patterson (’15) of Georgetown
Mollie Pope (’15) of Barbourville
Rachel Price (’15) of Annville
Benjamin Riley (’15) of Louisville
Luke Samuel (’15) of Sparta
Joshua Stewart (’15) of Crestwood
William Walters (’15) of Lexington
Lindsay Walton (’15) of Goshen
Jack Wassom (’15) of Bowling Green
Jenna Willet (’15) of Fancy Farm
Noah Williamson (’15) of Taylorsville
Sarah Yount (’15) of Jackson
Phoebe Zimmerer (’15) of Dexter


Two students will study with the WKU faculty-led study abroad Landscapes of the Supernatural course with Erin Greunke and Jacob Buechler.

Abigail Boone (’15) of Simpsonville
Cameron Hubbard (’15) of Louisville

Other Notable Individual Summer Experiences

Corbin Allender (’14) of Bardstown is planning a “workaway” summer in Europe.
Grace Babbs (’14) of Paducah will be completing an internship with the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN) with Dr. Brian Rymond.
Meredith Bickett (’15) of Owensboro will work as a pharmacy technician. She will also attend the Sam Fox School of Architecture Discovery Program at Washington University in St. Louis.
Aaron Brzowski (’14) of Owensboro will travel to Nepal for nonprofit research, volunteerism, and distribution of water filters through the Project Purus organization that he founded.
Tori Buckley (’14) of Glasgow will participate in the University of Kentucky’s PEPP Step II Medical/Dental School Preparation Program.
Nathaniel Clause (’14) of Murray will be participating in the American Regions Mathematics League.
Samantha Dinga (’14) of La Grange will be completing an internship with the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN) with Dr. Vincent Cassone.
Ethan Gill (’14) of Bowling Green will be attending the Google I/O annual technology conference in San Francisco.
Hannah Graff (’14) of Alexandria will be completing a research internship at the Wood Hudson Cancer Research Laboratory in Newport studying breast cancer.
Harry Heyworth (’14) of Prospect will be working with the Northwest Youth Corps.
James “Marcus” Hughes (’14) of Marion will intern with the Space Telescope Science Institute 2014 Space Astronomy Summer Program in Baltimore with Dr. Ron Allen.
Naomi Kellogg (’14) of Elizabethtown will be a counselor with WKU’s Center for Gifted Studies SCATS and VAMPY camps.
Kelly Lynch (’15) of Glasgow will present research work from the WKU Genome Discovery and Exploration Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance PHAGES Symposium at the HHMI Janelia Farm campus in Ashburn, Virginia.
Muhammad “Suhaib” Mahmood (’14) of Crestwood is planning a “workaway” summer in Europe.
Jon “Alex” Malone (’14) of Pikeville will be competing in the National Academic Quiz Tournament High School National Championship and in the High School Academic Pyramid Question’s National All-Star Academic Tournament.
Logan Mitchell (’14) of Hebron will be a research intern with WKU’s Hoffman Environmental Research Institute.
Patrick Osterhaus (’14) of Paducah has been chosen as an intern with The Jackson Laboratory’s Summer Student Program in Bar Harbor, ME.
Hannah Rodgers (’14) of Verona will shadow a general practitioner.
Austin Smith (’14) of La Grange will be completing an internship with the Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (KBRIN).
Vishnu Tirumala (’14) of Corbin will be volunteering at Baptist Regional Medical Center.
Kevin Ziegler (’14) of Bowling Green will be doing research with Dr. Jarrett Johnson in the WKU Department of Biology.
Melissa Anderson (’15) of Frankfort will be interning at Lockheed Martin.
Michael Blankenship (’15) of Stopover will intern in Savannah State University’s Bridge to Marine Science program in Savannah, Ga.
India Blasser (’15) of Henderson will be volunteering at Methodist Hospital in Henderson and at St. Mary’s Health System in Evansville, Ind.
Abigail Boone (’15) of Simpsonville will be completing coursework through WKU.
Anna Braun (’15) of Union will be a participant in Operation Catapult at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology.
Michael Evans (’15) of Beattyville will be completing coursework through WKU.
Julia Gensheimer (’15) of Bowling Green will be doing a research internship at WKU’s Institute for Combustion Science (ICSET). She will also be presenting research at the 248th American Chemical Society’s National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco.
Courtney George (’15) of Maysville will be completing coursework through the Maysville Community and Technical College.
Benjamin Guthrie (’15) of Bowling Green will be completing coursework through WKU.
Sarah Herricks (’15) of Paducah will be completing coursework online.
Peter Kaminski (’15) of Owensboro will participate in the Air Force Academy’s Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Allyson King (’15) of Florence will intern with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) with Dr. David Moore.
Kelly McKenna (’15) of Crestwood will be a counselor with the Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana camp.
Melissa Murphy (’15) of Owensboro will be interning with dermatologist Dr. Nicole Brey.
Kathryn “Rachel” Price (’15) of Annville will be completing a service project at the McCreary County Park and will be doing online coursework.
Cameron Richards (’15) of Bowling Green will be participating in the Summer College Audition Program at the Jacob’s School of Music at the Indiana University-Bloomington. He will also be doing coursework through WKU.
Valerie Richmond (’15) of Bowling Green will be participating in the Women’s Technology Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Benjamin Riley (’15) of Louisville will continue research with Dr. Ting-Hui Lee of the WKU Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Rena Ryumae (’15) of Union will be doing a research internship at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center with Dr. Leah Kottyan. She will also be volunteering in the nursing unit at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Florence and completing coursework through WKU.
Saralinda Schell (’15) of Bowling Green will participate in the Arabic Summer Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.
Christian Simms (’15) of Bardstown will participate in the United States Naval Academy Summer Seminar in Annapolis, Md., the United States Air Force Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the United States Military Academy’s Summer Seminar in West Point, N.Y. He will also complete an internship at Unus LLC in Birmingham, Ala.
Joshua Stewart (’15) of Crestwood will participate in the University of Kentucky’s Health Researchers Youth Academy.He will also present research work from the WKU Genome Discovery and Exploration Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science Education Alliance PHAGES Symposium at the HHMI Janelia Farm campus in Ashburn, Virginia.
Sarah Yount (’15) of Jackson will be conducting research in the Robinson Forest with the University of Kentucky.

About the Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, the Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s high school for gifted and talented junior and seniors. Gatton Academy students enroll early as full-time WKU students to pursue their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Newsweek named the Gatton Academy the number one public high school in the United States in 2012 and 2013.

Contact: Derick Strode, (270) 745-6565.

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Alumni Spotlight: Wayne Schmitt (Class of 2013, Montgomery County)

Can you describe your experience at the Gatton Academy?
That is kind of difficult to put into words because there are so many things about Gatton that are almost indescribable. I was challenged in ways that I had never been before. I was able to do research and have an early look at what college might be like. However, I think most of all, it provided such an incredible and open community, one necessary for the thriving of gifted students from across the state. We were able to look at each other’s accomplishments and struggles and see that we were all in this together. We were there for each other, during the good and the bad. These two years were created from the group effort of over 120 students and staff members. I made so many great friends, many of whom I miss so much. Given the opportunity, I would give them a place to stay here in Philadelphia in a heartbeat. If I had to go back, I would definitely do it again.

How have your experiences at the Gatton Academy helped you in your adult life?
Although I can say that my experiences here at the University of Pennsylvania have been much different and more challenging than at Gatton, I definitely can say that it gave me a good foundation for higher education. Gatton also gave me many opportunities to show how involved I was in and out of the classroom. It also was an opportunity to live and work with a more diverse population of students. Everyone from Gatton came from a different background, and Gatton provided us with a safe place to express our ideas and opinions. Also, I think that the Gatton Academy allowed me to be more fully responsible for myself; no longer were my parents telling me to clean my room or wake up in the morning. This definitely prepared me for the all the self-responsibility I now have in college.

Since the Academy what have you been up to?
I have been studying at the University of Pennsylvania, trying to balance school with my work study and extracurricular organizations. I hope to get involved in ecology research in next fall. Before classes started, I took part in an amazing pre-orientation program called PennGreen where I learned a lot about sustainability practices and environmental health, while also making new friends in the process. With clubs and extracurricular activities, I am involved in the Freshmen Fuerza, a Latino cultural group for freshmen, Penn Environmental Group, and some of the LGBT groups on campus.

What do you aspire to achieve in the next ten years?
I hope to go to grad school for biology and to become a research biologist/ecologist. I want the work that I do to have a positive impact on the conservation of animals, ecosystems, and the environment as a whole. On the side, I hope to have made at least a few short films along the way to show my love of film and filmmaking. I have no specific plan in mind, but of course there is still plenty of time for that.

What was your favorite memory from your time at the Gatton Academy?
There are so many great memories from Gatton, it is so difficult to pick just one. I definitely enjoyed the 4+ hour one-on-ones with my RC talking about everything from religion and philosophy to “Why does Avril Lavigne sing Radiohead at the top of her lungs?” There were definitely the beautiful days, sitting out on the Colonnade steps, and eating “Pizza Tacos” (i.e. Pizza from DaVinci’s + 2 Tacos from Izzi’s made into a delicious sandwich). However, some of my favorite memories were formed during the week before classes started my senior year. Being able to spend time with the other community developers and Avatars was such a wonderful experience without the stress from classes.

We would like to thank Wayne for taking time out of his busy schedule to be interviewed.

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Class of 2016 STEM + Application

STEM+Critical Languages Application

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Gatton Academy Class of 2014 College Interest Survey

Gatton Academy College Alumni Interview Survey

As part of your alumni interview assignment, you will need to complete the following survey. Mallory and Chad will match you with a Gatton Academy alumnus based on your interest in universities and academic major.
  • University/College List

    In the following boxes, please list 5 universities/colleges that you might attend your undergraduate studies.
  • Academic Major

    In the following boxes, please list 3 academic majors that you might pursue after graduating from the Gatton Academy.
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Gatton Academy Student Develops and Releases his First Commercial App

Gatton Academy senior Ethan Gill of Bowling Green has developed and released his first commercial application for iOS devices.

Gill developed his HueHueHue app out of personal necessity. “I own Philips Hue lights which are supposed to make your life easier,” he said. Hue lights are a wireless lighting system for the home that can be remotely controlled by a smart device to turn on or off and to emit various colors and shades. Gill continued, “However, having to unlock my phone and wait for an app to load ended up being slower than just turning off a light switch.”

His HueHueHue app resolves this “simple” issue allowing the user to toggle Hue lights with a simple action on an iPhone or iPad. Once configured, the app can even run when the screen is locked, simplifying the process and saving the user time.

Western Kentucky University’s winter and summer terms provide Gatton Academy students additional time needed to explore and develop their unique passions. During the 2013 summer term, Gill was awarded the Gatton Academy Research Internship allowing him to conduct computer science research under the direction of Dr. James Gary, Associate Professor of Computer Science and Department Head.

Currently, Gill is developing apps and attending national programming competitions during Western Kentucky University’s winter term as part of his Gatton Academy winter term learning project.

“Gatton Academy students undertake a range of activities during winter term. From classes to study abroad to community service to job shadowing, we ensure that every Academy student is active in their learning during the university’s three-week intersession,” said Derick Strode, Assistant Director of Academic Services at the Gatton Academy. “Ethan’s pursuits in programming are an exact model of how students are using winter term to creatively advance their learning, research, and career goals.”

Gill’s application for compatible iOS devices is avaliable on Cydia at

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What Dreams Are Made Of

Samantha Dinga

Italy 2014: Take 1 – My personal Italy experience didn’t go exactly as expected. On New Year’s Day, I met the Gatton group at the Nashville airport bright and early only to find that my passport had expired one month before our departure date. That put a bit of a damper on things. So I sent my friends off with hugs and promises that I’d meet them there, and waited for my mother to come and take me to Atlanta’s regional Passport offices. After three days of scrambling and watching as tons of beautiful pictures were posted, with the help of my lovely mother, I finally had a shiny new passport in my hands.

Italy 2014: Take 2, City 1 – After long flights from Atlanta to Paris and finally to Venice, I finally met Tim in Venice’s airport, and we took a train (sadly no Venetian canals for me) to meet our group in Florence. I was met at the hotel at around 9 pm by a group of my friends, with hugs, and a lot of complaining that I had to unpack quickly because they had waited to eat dinner for me. We walked outside to see Florence still lit up for the Christmas season, passing the beautiful and massive il Duomo just a few blocks from our hotel. We spent the next few days seeing beautiful sculptures such as the statue of David, being toured around Dante’s hometown, singing together in cathedrals with wonderful acoustics, and posing like the tourists we were in front of Pisa.

Italy 2014: Take 2, City 3 – We bussed from Venice to Rome, and proceeded to all become Lizzie Maguire, frolicking around Rome knowing that this is in fact what dreams are made of. We found what we consider to be the best gelato in all of Italy, and ate what was probably the best meal of my life in a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Seriously, I don’t know what was in the lasagna, but it was probably magic. We spent our time in Rome going through all of the major destinations, such as the Coliseum, which had a habit of popping out of nowhere as we bussed from tour to tour despite its size. We saw the Trevi Fountain (which was even more than Lizzie Maguire made me believe), visited the ruins of Pompeii, and went down to the Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, where some of us even got to return and be blessed by Pope Francis himself!

Italy 2014: A Summation – There is no question about why the world raves about the magnificent art in Italy. Even the hallways and ceilings were breathtaking, not to mention the exhibits themselves. The food is worth every hour we flew, and I am convinced that I will be disappointed at every meal I eat for the next few weeks as a result. Outside of all of our touring, I met a lot of great people as I travelled. Though I’ve lived with everyone on the trip for (at least) a semester, I believe that I’ve forged friendships that are tied forever by the bonds that only 10 Euro gelato, Tim Talks about our dreams themselves, storytelling during Mafia card games, countless rounds of our favorite Spaghetti-Western card game “Bang!”, and dozens of verses of “the ants go marching…” can create. Italy was beautiful, as are all of the great people I had the privilege to travel with. This was in fact what dreams are made of.

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Gatton Academy Students Present at National Astronomy Conference

A current Gatton Academy student and recent alumna presented their research findings on Thursday, January 9 at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Washington, D.C.

James “Marcus” Hughes of Marion, a current senior, and Mary Spraggs of Danville, a 2013 Gatton Academy graduate and current WKU student, both presented posters. Their research is mentored by Dr. Steven Gibson, Assistant Professor in the WKU Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Marcus Hughes presents his findings at the AAS Conference

Marcus and Mary have done cutting-edge work deserving of a national forum,” Gibson said. “The AAS conference is a great opportunity for them to communicate their results, get important feedback from other researchers in the field, and see how the wider professional community functions.”

Hughes’ poster was titled A Survey of Hidden Molecular Clouds in the Milky Way, and Spraggs’ was A Multi-wavelength Analysis of Cold Evolving Interstellar Clouds. While both students have presented their findings multiple times previously, this was their first time presenting at a national conference.

Mary Spraggs presents her findings at the AAS Conference

Gibson said that senior colleagues approached him at the meeting to say how impressed they were with the students’ presentations.

Writing from the conference, Spraggs commented, “We’ve been to talks not only about breakthrough science, but policy, demographics, career preparation, networking, software development, and education. It’s really given us a new view of the culture in the field and the current issues and topics of discussion.”

Spraggs added that she had had numerous talks about graduate programs and graduate research opportunities at the conference.

The conference was attended by over 3,000 astronomers, educators, journalists, and guests. Keynote speakers included Edwin C. Krupp and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
In addition to Dr. Gibson, Hughes, and Spraggs, the WKU delegation also included student Joshua Williams of Bowling Green and Drs. Michael Carini, Richard Gelderman, Ting-Hui Lee, and Charles McGruder, all faculty in the WKU Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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Class of 2013 Survey

Class of 2013 Update

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Gatton Student Attends HackMIT

Ethan Gill

This past weekend I attended HackMIT, a large undergraduate programming contest held on the campus of MIT. During the 24-hour competition, I programmed around the clock creating a set of apps. The app I developed went on to the win the Mopub-sponsored mobile data award. I was one of 30 teams to win a prize out of over 275 submissions; I am honored and ecstatic that I won. I would not have been knowledgeable enough to attend if not for the experience I have obtained while at the Gatton Academy, and I am grateful for everything the Gatton staff has done to assist me this past year.

During the competition, I developed two iOS apps and set up a server in one day. My final product consisted of BeaconBroadcaster and BeaconViewer, apps that use Bluetooth 4.0 on iPhones and iPads to dynamically ‘beam’ content in one direction with the help of a server. The broadcasting device does not need to be an iPhone. In fact, inexpensive Bluetooth beacons can be purchased online. The applications for this idea are endless. For example, a college campus could put a beacon into their campus maps, allowing real-time “you are here” maps to be pushed to visitors’ devices. Or, a museum could use beacons for their exhibits, pushing extra information to visitors.

To demonstrate my apps to judging, I used three iPhones. Two broadcasted and one received beacons. My viewer app finds the nearest beacon by signal strength and displays it, so I moved the viewer back and forth between the other two phones, demonstrating how the information instantly switched onscreen. In addition, I changed the value of a beacon on my server, and the value on the viewing device updated instantly.

I can honestly say that HackMIT was one of the most invigorating and informative weekends of my life so far. I was able to meet countless tech startups and major tech firms like Dropbox, Bloomberg, Twitter, and Pebble. I highly encourage interested programmers to apply to hackathons and conferences; they might have their lives changed.

My submission information can be found at this link:

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Avatar Story: Becoming a Community

Gretchen Walch

At the end of my junior year I recall the excitement our class had about meeting, befriending, and mentoring the in-coming juniors, class of 2015. We called them “our juniors” and in the words of senior Samantha Dinga, we wanted “to be their seniors!” It is safe to say that nearly all of the seniors wanted to be community leaders and the competition for these official positions was tight. To our excitement, now that everyone is moved in the seniors have 72 new friends—the juniors.

Any day of the week someone sitting on the fourth floor common area of the Gatton Academy can hear the voices rising from third floor commons. During the morning and afternoon there might be questions to seniors about CS homework or the tip tap of the keyboard writing a lab report. Throughout the evening it is full of laughter and the joined voices of juniors and seniors, discussing their favorite actors, meeting about yearbook, anime, or chatting about some of the professors we enjoy or the “nerdy” topics we “fan-girl over.”

Today I went on third floor and asked the juniors and seniors there what they thought about the relationship between the classes. Good news: the consensus is that we like each other.

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