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University of Missouri Student Named a Goldwater Scholar

April 6, 2009

Story Contact:  Jeffrey Beeson, (573) 882-9144,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - University of Missouri sophomore Curtis Atkisson has been recognized for his strong academic merit and named a Goldwater Scholar. The highly selective scholarship was awarded to 278 college sophomores and juniors from the U.S. interested in the fields of mathematics, science or engineering. The scholarship will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to $7,500.

"Curtis is, without a doubt, one of the most exceptional young students I have ever had the pleasure of knowing," said Ed Brent, professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Science. "He takes more visible pleasure in learning than anyone I have ever known. I have the greatest confidence he will be one of those students faculty brag about when we talk about why we like teaching. My personal belief is that this is only one of many awards he will receive during his career."

Atkisson is majoring in anthropology and psychology in the College of Arts and Science, with minors in biology and math. He has co-authored a book chapter currently in publication with Brent and has two other papers underway. Atkisson plans to graduate from MU with several refereed papers and a book, in addition to working with other professors on other projects.

"Not being involved in clubs was a weak point for me on the application," said Atkisson. "But the purpose of the Goldwater Scholarship is to find students who will be successful in graduate school and conduct relevant research. I'm doing that now."

Atkisson, who currently works 30 hours a week to help pay for school, hopes this scholarship will enable him to reduce his work hours so he can concentrate on research. His primary research area is the evolution of human behavioral ecology.

"I think the best way to describe Curtis is that he is intellectually voracious; he is constantly reading, researching, asking questions, and evaluating assumptions," said Ines Segert, assistant resident instructor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. "This is sustained by his incredible work ethic. I don't believe he knows the meaning of the word vacation."

The Barry M. Goldwater scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the 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.