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Majors & Degrees

Barton receives NASA scholarship & invited to LSU

March 27, 2014

Dakota State University junior, Clay Barton, a physical science major from Webster, S.D., was recently awarded a $2,500 educational stipend from the NASA South Dakota Space Grant Consortium Management Team for the 2014-2015 school year. The purpose of the stipend is to reward past accomplishments and recognize potential future achievements in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

“I’ve always felt rewarded for my time spent at DSU. The satisfaction and personal growth I've experienced during my studies is well worth the cost and effort I've devoted to pursuing my major,” stated Barton.

To qualify for the scholarship, each student must submit a cover letter explaining how they plan to use the stipend to assist in their educational studies, and a career goal statement that describes their views of careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Also, Dr. Barbara Szczerbinska, associate professor of physics and faculty advisor, submitted a letter of recommendation for Barton stating his qualifications for the scholarship.

As the link between NASA and the citizens of South Dakota, the Consortium’s mission is to instill the spirit of exploration and discovery in students, educators, and the general public. It also promotes a special focus on the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that are essential for the development of the nation’s work-force.

The SD Space Grant Consortium was established March 1, 1991, by a NASA Capability Enhancement Grant. Its goal is to administer a fellowship/scholarship program that offers educational and research opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds that are pursuing degrees in the STEM disciplines that align with NASA’s mission and those of SDSGC members and affiliates.

For Barton, the Space Grant was not his only recent accomplishment, he was also invited to join the REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) in Physics & Astronomy Program at Louisiana State University this summer. Only 10 students out of more than 300 applicants were accepted to the 10-week program.

“It's easy to forget that there's a huge demand for people with knowledge and skills in science, and that a degree is worth more than the personal value I place in obtaining it. In this light, the stipend from SDSGC and the offer from LSU came as great surprises to me, and I'm doubly grateful for their recognition and generosity,” said Barton.

The REU program introduces students to the nature of research-oriented careers in physics and astronomy, and fosters development of research-related skills and knowledge. Participants are matched with faculty mentors based on student interests. Weekly seminars, field trips and workshops provide students with additional skills development, professional development topics such as ethics and patents/intellectual property, and an introduction to common research resources.