On September 18, 2008, Apollo 14 astronaut and moonwalker Edgar Mitchell presented University of Kentucky electrical engineering senior Donnie Keathley, of Pikeville, Ky., with a $10,000 scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) during a public presentation and ceremony.
Keathley is focusing his research on photonics and optical-based devices. Working through the university, he is helping develop surface-plasmon resonance sensors, a type of optical biochemical sensor which can be applied in environmental, medical and defense use. Inspired by his semester abroad in Malaysia, Keathley co-founded Symbios, a networking group for research students in different disciplines. Already having co-authored two journal articles, he hopes to continue his career along the path to inspire young minds as a university research professor. Keathley is a member of Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering honor society and in his spare time enjoys playing guitar and renovating his rental property.
The Astronaut Scholarship is the largest monetary award given in the United States to science and engineering undergraduate students based solely on merit. Nineteen of these prestigious awards are dispersed each year through the ASF to outstanding college students majoring in a science or engineering field. These well-rounded students exhibit exceptional performance, initiative, and creativity in their field, as well as intellectual daring and a genuine desire to positively change the world around them, both in and outside the classroom.
“We are excited that the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation has recognized Donnie Keathley’s outstanding academic work and research at the University of Kentucky,” said UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr. “We know with the help of this scholarship that Donnie will continue to be successful in both his graduate studies and research, making great contributions to the field of engineering.”
Keathley, the son of Pamela and the late Allen Keathley, is a 2004 graduate of Pikeville High School.
Senior mechanical engineering students Eli Darby and Ryan Holman were accepted into the United States Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Program. In the Navy, “Nucs” are the top of the line and are extremely selective of whom they let in. These students were not only accepted into the nuclear program, they had the significant honor of being offered teaching positions at the Navy Nuclear Training Facility in Charleston, SC.
Senior Tom Dodson, of Lexington, was named a 2009 Goldwater Scholar and UK sophomore Jenna Shapiro, of Versailles, Ky., received honorable mention recognition by the esteemed scholarship program. Dodson was among 278 students nationwide awarded the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship this year. This year’s Goldwater Scholars were selected on the basis of academic merit from a field of 1,097 mathematics, science and engineering students who were nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide. He is currently majoring in computer science, computer engineering and physics at UK. He also is pursuing a minor in mathematics, and considering additional minors in biology and linguistics. Shapiro is currently pursuing a chemical engineering major and is a member of both the UK Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. She does her undergraduate research at UK’s Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center and Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering.
Keaton Osborne, senior chemical engineering, received the first place oral paper award and second place overall award at the 2009 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Southern Regional Conference hosted by the University of Alabama. His paper was on “Fibronectin and Plasma Protein Binding to the Treponemapallidum Membrane Protein, Tp0483, on a COOH Self-assembled Monolayer.” This is the second consecutive year chemical engineering students have received the first place award and overall second in the Annual AIChE Southern Region Conference.
Donnie Keathley, electrical and computer engineering, received a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. The award from U.S. Department of Defense is for three years at the institution of his choice and covers full tuition plus a $31,000 per year stipend. He is one of about 200 students nationwide to receive the fellowship and, based on historical data, only one of about twenty electrical engineers.