Wednesday, May 29, 2013

[511] MTSU’s Murphy earns national Goldwater Scholarship

MURFREESBORO — MTSU junior Daniel Murphy wants to pursue a doctorate in atomic physics some day.

Winning a Goldwater Scholarship hopefully will assist the Murfreesboro resident in reaching his dream.

Murphy, a University Honors College student who is majoring in both physics and philosophy, is a 2013 recipient of a Goldwater award from the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. He is among 272 recipients nationally for the 2013-14 academic year.

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 careers in these fields. The scholarship program was established in 1986 by Congress to honor the late senator, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

“It definitely took a few moments to process,” Murphy said of learning about the prestigious award from Laura Clippard, director of the Honors College’s Undergraduate Fellowships Office.

“I told Ms. Clippard, ‘Are you serious?’” the Siegel High School alumnus added. “It felt good. I had that sense of, ‘I guess I’m good in science,’ but it is especially nice when others validate this.”

The one-year financial award covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year. Murphy is an Honors College Buchanan Fellow, which is the highest academic award provided by the university annually to 20 incoming freshmen and is good for four years as long as he remains in good academic standing.

Murphy, one of five Tennessee residents to receive the distinction, said the research he has conducted is in optics.

“What I’m hoping to get into is atomic physics,” he said. “That’s what I’m excited about and what I hope to try.”

Murphy said the Goldwater Scholarship gives him “more motivation to do more. It helps me to think about the future more. It makes me want to go for bigger challenges.”

Those “bigger challenges” include pursuing Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. Both would be opportunities in the United Kingdom.

Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in the U.K. Up to 40 scholars are selected each year to study at graduate level at a U.K. institution in any field of study. For more, visit

The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford. It is considered the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship award in the world. For more information, visit,

Murphy praised the Honors College staff, particularly Clippard, for helping “polish” his recommendation submission.
At MTSU, Murphy has held membership in the Society of Physics Students, serving as president in 2012-13. He was inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma, a physics honor society, on May 2.

Physics major Jonathan W. Herlan of Limestone, Tenn., was named a Goldwater honorable mention. Herlan hopes to earn his doctorate in physical acoustics at the University of Mississippi or doctorate in physics at Duke University. He has a career goal to conduct acoustic research and teach at a university level. Herlan is a Society of Physics Students member.

This marks the third consecutive year that one or more MTSU students have received Goldwater awards. Current MTSU students who are interested in applying should email


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