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Third Boise State Student Wins Prestigious SMART Scholarship for Service

By: Cienna Madrid   Published 7:03 am / June 6, 2018

Computing PhD Outdoor Portraits, Emma Thompson PhotoBoise State alumna and current graduate student Kathryn Drake is the third Boise State student this year to be awarded with a highly competitive Department of Defense (DoD) SMART Scholarship for Service. The scholarship will cover the remainder of her graduate school tuition, as well as a living stipend, for up to five years. Drake currently is pursuing her doctoral degree in the university’s new computing Ph.D. program.

“During my master’s program for applied mathematics, I developed an interest in using computer programs to solve real world problems,” Drake explained. “With the help of my advisor, professor Grady Wright, I determined that a degree in scientific computing would give me the rest of the skills I needed for my career goals. At the time, the computing Ph.D. program was finally becoming established after years of hard work from professors all over campus. I am fortunate enough to be in the first cohort of students to start this program, in which my emphasis is scientific computing and engineering.”

Boise State’s computing Ph.D. program is a unique interdisciplinary program involving faculty from the Graduate College, College of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences. Drake’s current research involves working with data collected from the first light to travel in the universe after the Big Bang, otherwise known as the cosmic microwave background radiation. The project, which was funded by the NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium last year, incorporates the fields of mathematics, physics and scientific computing.

Once Drake finishes her degree, she will begin work as a scientist for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific in San Diego, California.

“This scholarship enables me to finish my Ph.D. program and secure a position to start my career as a computational scientist,” she said. “My biggest hope for my future is that I will find a career in which I can utilize my skills in mathematics and scientific computing to solve real-world problems across a variety of disciplines. I believe this will be the best way for me to do what I enjoy while continuing my lifelong pursuit of knowledge.”

The SMART Scholarship Program was established to strengthen the Department of Defense science and technology workforce with highly skilled science and engineering professionals. While in school, participants perform research as summer interns at DoD laboratories and return to those laboratories after graduation to complete a period of obligated employment service. This provides scholars with a unique opportunity to perform research in their respective area of interest that they would not have otherwise been able to do.