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Two UND students named 2022 Goldwater scholars

Sydney Menne and Sabrina Sullivan are the only students from a North Dakota institution to have been selected for this year’s award

Sydney Menne (left), a UND junior, and UND sophomore Sabrina Sullivan are winners of the 2022 Goldwater scholarships. The scholarships are meant to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the fields of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Two UND students have won Goldwater Scholarships, a federally endowed award that encourages students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering.

The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship in mathematics, natural sciences and engineering in the United States. The scholarships are awarded by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, an organization that was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the lifetime work of the late Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater.

Sydney Menne, a Physics and Mathematics major, and Petroleum Engineering major Sabrina Sullivan were selected as Goldwater scholars. They are the only two students from a North Dakota institution to win a 2022 Goldwater award, the scholarship foundation reports. UND’s most recent Goldwater recipient was in 2013.

Menne, a junior, will receive a scholarship for her senior year that will cover tuition, fees, books and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500. Sullivan, a sophomore, will receive the same scholarship for both her junior and senior years.

“It is a distinct honor for the University of North Dakota to have two students – sophomore Sabrina Sullivan and junior Sydney Menne – selected as 2022 Goldwater Scholars,” said UND President Andy Armacost.

“Knowing this scholarship recognizes the top undergraduate researchers in the nation from among 1,200 nominees submitted by more than 430 institutions makes their accomplishment even more impressive,” Armacost said. “UND is proud of its undergraduates who consistently demonstrate their ability to thrive and compete at the highest levels of scientific discovery.”

UND Provost Eric Link agreed. “We are so proud of Sydney and Sabrina,” Link said.

“They are remarkable students, and their outstanding work is achieving national recognition through these Goldwater scholarships.  The scholarships are a credit to the students’ hard work and dedication, and to the opportunities here at UND for students to pursue academic excellence and get the support they need from faculty and staff.”

Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic and research credentials that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs, said Yee Han Chu, Academic Support and Fellowship Opportunities Coordinator at UND. For example, Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 94 Rhodes Scholarships, 150 Marshall Scholarships, 170 Churchill Scholarships, 109 Hertz Fellowships, and many other distinguished awards such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

About Sydney Menne

A native of Shoreview, Minn., Menne has won a slate of honors over the course of her UND career. Besides being an Honors student, she is also a McNair Scholar, a US MASTER Scholar and a member of the NASA Student Launch program.

Moreover, she was selected in February as a 2022 Brooke Owens Fellow. More than 1,000 students — many from Ivy League schools — applied for the prestigious international fellowship, but only 51 were chosen for the 12-week summer program that pairs students with experts at 36 top aerospace industries.

Menne will join the propulsion engineering team at Virgin Orbit in Long Beach, Calif., during her Brooke Owens fellowship.

“I am absolutely honored to be selected as a Goldwater scholar,” Menne said.

“Reading the award email, it felt so rewarding for all the progress I’ve made and the goals I have as a scientist to be recognized at this level. It’s a confirmation that everything I’m currently doing is putting me on a path to achieve my goals as a researcher and engineer.

“To know that I have the support of such a prestigious scholarship is an incredible feeling.”

Said UND’s Yee Han Chu, “With Sydney Menne at the helm, the future is bright for all.

“Sydney is exceptional in many ways. She can comprehend complex material quickly.  She has unique and varied interests.  She exudes a graceful calm as she undertakes any challenge.  She is one of the most talented students I have ever met on this campus.

“I can attest to the depth of her character, and am in awe of her ability to manage multiple campus and community duties while completing these very lengthy scholarship applications,” Chu continued. “I am thrilled that Sydney has been invited to join the Goldwater Scholar Community.  She deserves it.”

About Sabrina Sullivan

A U.S. Air Force veteran, Sullivan has 14 years of experience working in the oil and gas industry and now works as an Optimization Supervisor. She started her petroleum engineering studies at UND last fall as a transfer student.

Sullivan already has published an article at the Southwestern Petroleum Short Course and spoke at several Artificial Life Conferences around the Southern U.S. Artificial Life is a field in which researchers examine systems related to natural life, including its processes and evolution, through the use of simulations with computer models, robotics and biochemistry.

Sullivan’s most recent and proudest achievement is helping develop an innovative lift to more efficiently and ecologically extract oil. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is currently reviewing the patent application.

“I stared at my name on the Goldwater website for Goldwater Scholars of 2022, trying to make sure I was really reading it correctly,” Sullivan said. “I refreshed my browser, and my name was still there; joy bubbled up, and I immediately called my best friend to tell him, ‘We did it!’ ”

“This experience has been transformative, and I’m elated to be a part of the Goldwater Scholar community, having the opportunity to be mentored by other scholars, and giving me the footing to become a scientific pioneer in my industry.”

Added Yee Han Chu, “I have enjoyed every moment working with and learning from Sabrina.

“Through her varied life experiences, she models the work ethic and perseverance that students from diverse backgrounds bring to science.  Sabrina grew up in a small gas camp in northwest New Mexico, and at 13, she set her sights on working in the petroleum engineering field.

“She has kept her eyes on that prize ever since, and today, I am honored to have worked with her. She is so deserving of this Goldwater Scholarship, and I look forward to learning about her contributions to the field.  The world needs her skills.”

Thank you, Yee Han Chu and faculty mentors

Both Sullivan and Menne expressed deep gratitude to Yee Han Chu and the UND faculty members who’ve helped them along the way.

“I am so grateful for the experience and having the opportunity to work with Dr. Chu,” Sullivan said.

“Her guidance and support through the application process helped me to piece together my goals. I think I learned more about myself through the Goldwater application process than I had the entire previous year,” Sullivan continued.

Menne agreed. “If it weren’t for Yee Han, I never would have known about the Goldwater or considered applying,” she said.

“She has always been incredibly encouraging and supportive, focusing on the process of applying rather than the outcome.

“Next, to my three recommendation-letter writers: Dr. Tim Young, Dr. Yen Lee Loh, and Dr. Kanishka Marasinghe. All three have always been incredibly supportive of my learning and of opportunities such as this.

“And I’d also like to thank Ms. Carissa Green and Dr. Gisele Muller-Parker, as well as the UND Goldwater Committee (Dr. Wayne Barkhouse, Dr. Ryan Zerr, and Dr. Rebecca Simmons) for their invaluable feedback. Each and every person named here played a role in this award, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the support I’ve received.”