SOCORRO, N.M., August 30, 2001 -- Virginia Alison Starke, a native of Los Alamos who is now a senior majoring in both physics and mathematics at New Mexico Tech, recently was awarded the 2001-2002 SPS Leadership Scholarship, a national scholarship award given by the Society of Physics Students (SPS) to outstanding physics students who exhibit a high level of activity in SPS programs.
Starke, a graduate of Los Alamos High School, is the daughter of Jane and Thomas Starke of Los Alamos.
She was selected for the prestigious honor from a group of several exceptional applicants by the national office of SPS, an organization of the American Institute of Physics.
As an SPS scholarship recipient, Starke will receive a monetary award of $1,000 and will be featured in an upcoming article in the fall issue of the SPS Observer and Radiations.
Starke currently attends New Mexico Tech on a William and Jean Macey Scholarship and also recently won the research university's Abraham and Esther Brook Award in Physics.
"Last summer, I participated in the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates Program at Cornell University, working at that university's nanofabrication facility," Starke says. "For two summers previous to that, I was employed by the materials science and technology division at Los Alamos National Laboratory."
She also is currently working at New Mexico Tech as a research assistant for Kenneth Minschwaner, physics professor and chairman of the university's physics department.
Starke's work with Minschwaner has resulted in her being named a co-author of a research article, "Photodissociation of Nitric Oxide in the Middle and Upper Atmosphere," which recently was published in the scientific journal Physics and Chemistry of the Earth.
Starke is a member of SPS, as well as Sigma Pi Sigma, the national honor society for physics students.
She is a past vice president of the New Mexico Tech Physics Club and currently serves as the club's treasurer.
When she's not attending classes, studying, or conducting research, Starke says she dedicates her spare time to actively participating in Tech's intramural soccer program, rock climbing, horseback riding, and photography.
She also volunteers as an assistant leader of a local Senior Girl Scout Troop.