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Two Michigan State University students win prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Two Michigan State University students pursuing STEM-related degrees have won the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. Additionally, two other MSU students received honorable mentions.

David Zoltowski
David Zoltowski
John Suddard-Bangsund
John Suddard-Bangsund

The Goldwater Scholarship was awarded to John Suddard-Bangsund and David Zoltowski, providing both with funding for undergraduate tuition and living expenses.

They become the 39th and 40th Goldwater Scholars from Michigan State University since the scholarship program was established by Congress in 1986.

Suddard-Bangsund is an Honors College junior majoring in materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering and interdisciplinary humanities in the College of Arts and Letters, and Zoltowski is an Honors College junior majoring in electrical engineering in the College of Engineering.

Two MSU students also received honorable mentions: Megan Kechner, an Honors College sophomore majoring in neuroscience in the Lyman Briggs College and psychology in the College of Social Science; and Irene Li, an Honors College sophomore majoring in genomics and molecular genetics in the College of Natural Science and interdisciplinary studies in social science-health and society in the College of Social Science.

“David and John are bright students who have a good future ahead of them,” said Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, dean of the MSU Honors College. “We’re honored they have received this outstanding award and that it will help support their pursuit of careers related to scientific research.”

Suddard-Bangsund is a research assistant in the Molecular Organic Excitonics Lab, developing new electron donor materials for organic photovoltaics. He’s from Monticello, Minnesota and graduated from Monticello High School.

“I’m honored to be recognized as a Goldwater Scholar but I couldn’t have gotten to this point without the mentorship I’ve received,” Suddard-Bangsund said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with people who are really excited and passionate about their work, and their energy has been contagious. I look forward to continuing my research and seeing where it takes me.”

Suddard-Bangsund is an Honors Times Two mentor, fundraising chair for Engineers Without Borders, and participated in the Michigan State Solar Car team. Suddard-Bangsund is also a recipient of the MSU Alumni Distinguished Scholarship. He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in materials science and engineering, conducting research on solar energy materials and teaching at the university level.

Zoltowski is a research assistant, applying advanced signal processing tools to study the functional brain networks. He’s from West Lafayette, Indiana and graduated from West Lafayette High School.

“I am very excited to be a Goldwater Scholar,” Zoltowski said. “It feels great to be recognized for my hard work and I am motivated to live up to the standards of past Goldwater Scholars. The award is a testament to the quality of Michigan State University’s College of Engineering, Honors College, and Student-Athlete Support Services.”

He is captain of the MSU Varsity Swimming and Diving team, a Distinguished Big Ten Scholar and Academic All-Big Ten. Zoltowski is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Eta Kappa Nu and an Honors Times Two mentor.

Zoltowski is a recipient of the MSU Honors College National Scholarship, Walter R. Yates Memorial Scholarship and Arthur J. Harris Memorial Scholarship. He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in electrical engineering, conducting research combining electrical engineering and neuroscience to advance the knowledge of the brain.

“We in the College of Engineering are very proud of David and John for their accomplishment in being chosen among so large a number of nominations for this distinction and award,” said Leo Kempel, acting dean of the College of Engineering. “David’s research interest in helping understand how the human brain functions – leading at some point to therapies and even cures for neurological conditions such as autism – is in the best tradition of transformative research at Michigan State University. John’s interest in improving the materials for capturing solar energy will directly lead to reduced energy dependency on non-renewable sources and lead to better environmental conditions.”

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.

The National and International Fellowship and Scholarship (NIFS) Office at Michigan State University, administered by the Honors College, helps interested undergraduate and graduate students to pursue major national and international opportunities by providing information and direct support throughout the competitive application processes. The Honors College serves academically talented, committed students who wish to pursue and achieve academic excellence. The Honors College strives to ensure an enriched academic and social experience for our members and create an environment that fosters active, innovative learning.

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