Senior Taylor Byrum Named 2009 Goldwater Scholar

Oklahoma Baptist University senior Taylor Byrum, a physics major and Honors student from Bentonville, Ark., has been named a 2009 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar.

This endowed recognition program was established by the United States Congress to foster and encourage excellence in science and mathematics. The 278 Goldwater Scholars were selected on a basis of academic merit from a field of 1,097 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

"The recipients of these scholarships typically go on to earn their Ph.D.s in mathematics, science, engineering or computer science," said Dr. Debbie Blue, OBU's senior vice president for academic affairs. "They are our nation's best hope to help find solutions to the world's energy, climate, resource consumption/production, health and nutrition problems.

"To have someone of Taylor's background, who not only has the ‘head' knowledge, but also the values and Christian principles to guide him as he prepares to step into such a leadership role on a whole new plane, is tremendously encouraging to me," Blue said.

Byrum credits his success to instruction by OBU faculty members Dr. Albert Chen, professor of physics, and Dr. John Nichols, associate professor of mathematics, as well as Dr. Lin Oliver from the University of Arkansas.

"I looked at some of the students that received Honorable Mentions, and I saw that there were students from very prestigious schools, like Yale, California-Berkeley and Stanford," Byrum said. "It made me feel really good for OBU's name to be on the list of schools of Goldwater Scholars."

Byrum said he believes the award indicates the quality of OBU's science department, as well as the quality of OBU science students. He noted that one of his classmates recently scored a 38 on the MCAT, with the average MCAT score at Harvard Medical School reportedly being 36.

"This award is the biggest achievement of my academic career," he said. "I ... know that it will help me get in to very good physics graduate programs. It helps set my career on a good track."

According to the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, 163 of the 2009 Scholars are men, 115 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Thirty Scholars are mathematics majors, 190 are science and related majors, 51 are majoring in engineering and seven are computer science majors. Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering and computer disciplines.

The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year, the foundation said. Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic qualifications that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Recent Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 73 Rhodes Scholarships, 102 Marshall Awards (seven of the 40 awarded in the United States in 2009), and numerous other distinguished fellowships.