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Alumni Spotlight

Daniel Hillsberry: Boise State Physics Department to National Science Foundation Fellowship

Dan Hillsberry

I started college at 30 years old after spending 12 years working in the blue collar world. Having always desired higher education I was thrilled when I was finally able to enrol in classes. Boise State was the obvious choice for me being born and raised here in Idaho’s capital city. During my years at BSU I found the school to be rich with opportunities of which I took advantage. The physics department gave me the opportunity to teach labs and work as a research assistant. This resulted in three peer reviewed publications and the chance travel to present research at a major conference. My work paid off and after five years I graduated with a bachelor’s of science in physics and two minors; Japanese studies and applied mathematics. These experiences helped me put together a successful graduate school application to the University of Florida’s Aerospace Engineering PhD program. As a graduate student at UF I applied for and won a graduate research fellowship with The National Science Foundation. My application to the NSF mostly contained my experiences and accomplishments at BSU as well as a letter of recommendation from a BSU physics faculty member. The support from the faculty continued even after I was gone! The undergraduate student experience in Boise State’s physics department is quite similar to being a graduate student and the faculty are second to none in preparing students for graduate school. I can say without a doubt that you can go anywhere in life when you launch from Boise State University.

Dan Hillsberry

Katie Rainey: Reflecting Back on Involvement

Katie Rainey

I graduated with a bachelor of science in physics, with a minor in applied mathematics, from Boise State in 2014. I decided to attend Boise State because it offered the allure of “big city” Idaho while allowing me to stay close to my hometown of Lewiston, Idaho. While at Boise State I had the opportunity to teach physics labs and conduct research, which resulted in a publication in a top physics journal. My time in the physics department gave me a huge advantage when applying to graduate school. I also worked with Multicultural Student Services (MSS) to perform in and write select theaters for the Tunnel of Oppression. Working with MSS changed my life for the better and really helped me realize what I am passionate about. I am currently attending the University of Colorado at Boulder pursuing a Ph.D. in physics while conducting education research focusing on gender, equity, and representation within the field of physics. After leaving Idaho, I realized that Boise State provides students with amazing opportunities, such as small, supportive classroom environments, various research opportunities, and access to many free activities on campus. My advice to current College of Arts and Sciences students would be to cherish your time at Boise State and take advantage of every opportunity you can.

Katie Rainey