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Michigan State University students earn national STEM scholarship

Two Michigan State University undergraduate students have been named recipients of the nationally competitive Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

Mohit Bansil is an Honors College junior majoring in advanced mathematics in the College of Natural Science and Emily Steffke is an Honors College junior majoring in neuroscience in the College of Natural Science and English in the College of Arts & Letters. They are the 45th and 46th Goldwater Scholarship recipients from MSU, respectively.

Each year, the Goldwater Foundation seeks scholars committed to a career in science, mathematics, or engineering who display intellectual intensity and who have the potential for significant future contribution in their chosen field. Those students are given funding for undergraduate tuition and living expenses.

For the 2019 competition, 443 institutions nominated 1,223 outstanding undergraduates. Of those, 496 Scholars were named. This was made possible because of support from the U.S. Congress in collaboration with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Program.

“I am greatly honored by the Goldwater Scholarship,” Bansil said. “I believe that the Goldwater Scholarship will help me pursue my dream to attend graduate school and excel in mathematics.”

Steffke said of the scholarship, “It is a profound honor to have my research experiences and academic pursuits recognized as being among the top of all undergraduates in the country. Winning this award has given me a great boost of confidence in my ability to communicate about my research and academic goals. I am extremely grateful for the guidance of my research mentors and the opportunities Michigan State has provided me as an undergraduate researcher.”

Bansil is a student researcher in the Department of Mathematics with Assistant Professor Jun Kitagawa.

“Mohit is exceptionally bright, quick and eager to learn new things, and highly self-driven. He has played an essential role in our joint projects on a new variant of semi-discrete optimal transport, and numerical methods,” Kitagawa said.

Bansil is from Farmington Hills, Michigan and graduated from North Farmington High School.

He has been active in various mathematical research opportunities both at MSU and other institutions. In 2017, he won first place in MSU’s Herzog competition, earning him a spot representing MSU in the international Putnam Competition Top 150.

Steffke is a student researcher in the labs of Assistant Professor A.J. Robison and Assistant Professor Michelle Mazei-Robison. Robison and Mazei-Robison are affiliated with the Neuroscience Program and Department of Physiology.

Emily Steffke“Emily is a tremendous student, athlete, and scientist. In the laboratory, she operates at the level of a senior graduate student, and makes genuine intellectual and benchtop contributions to our research program,” Robison said.

Steffke is from Weidman, Michigan and graduated from Beal City High School.

She has been active in various neuroscience research opportunities both at MSU and other institutions. Steffke is a member of the MSU Women’s Cross Country and Track team, as well as president and co-founder of Reach Outside, an MSU student organization that plans events for MSU students to volunteer with underprivileged children in the Lansing area to help them experience a variety outdoor sports.

“On behalf of Michigan State University, I want to congratulate Mohit and Emily for earning the Goldwater Scholarship,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the Honors College. “Earning this award is a significant acknowledgement of the effort they have made as undergraduate student researchers, in addition to their academic programs.”

The National/International Fellowships & Scholarships (NIFS) Office, administered by the Honors College, helps interested undergraduate and graduate students pursue major national and international opportunities by providing information and direct support throughout the competitive application processes.

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