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Ogden Honors Students Recognized in 2015 Goldwater Scholarship Competition

LSU junior Mollie Smoak, a native of Lafayette, La., has been named a 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, and junior Katie Hogan, a native of Choudrant, La., also received an Honorable Mention in the competition.

“We are extremely proud of both Mollie and Katie for being recognized this year by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation,” said LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander. “We commend them on their hard work and commitment to pursuing careers in the STEM field, and the entire LSU community joins in celebrating their academic achievements.”

Both Smoak and Hogan are students in the LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College and the College of Engineering and members of the Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program. They have worked in Associate Professor of Biological Engineering Daniel Hayes’ lab since entering LSU in the fall of 2012.

“Scholars like Mollie and Katie are rare finds,” said Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives Isiah Warner. “They are exemplary contributors to the long legacy of LA-STEM scholars who have maximized every opportunity they’ve been given. They understand the connection between their research and its broader impacts and will both undoubtedly impact the field of biomedical engineering in unprecedented ways. We are so proud of these two outstanding researchers!”

Smoak is pursuing a biological engineering major, and minors in chemistry and biological sciences. She is also a member of LSU’s Distinguished Communicator Program.

“Both Mollie and Katie exemplify what it means to be a scientist and an Ogden Honors student,” said Ogden Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle. “Their recognition by the Goldwater Foundation can be credited to their hard work and perseverance.”

Smoak has led multiple projects investigating bone-engineering techniques in Hayes’ lab. In the summer of 2014, Smoak participated in a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, where she researched the cellular mechanisms that contribute to cardiac dysfunction. She has published her research in scholarly journals, such as the Journal of Biomaterials Applications and the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, and has also presented her research at a number of nanoengineering and regenerative medicine conferences. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and ultimately hopes to develop low-cost medical devices and procedures that will repair limbs and limb function after injury.

“I would like to thank Dr. Hayes and Cong Chen from the Hayes Lab Group, everyone in LSU OSI and LA-STEM, and all of the LSU faculty who have given me guidance and support,” Smoak said.

Hogan is also a biological engineering major. Through her work as a research assistant in Hayes’ lab, she has studied the use of stems cells in bone repair and the antimicrobial properties of silver nanoparticles.

“We’re extremely proud of Mollie and Katie’s accomplishments,” said Rick Koubek, dean of the LSU College of Engineering. “This recognition is a testament to the talent of our undergraduates and the quality of our biological engineering program."

Hogan participated in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates at Northwestern University, where she studied breast cancer cell migration and anti-metastasis treatments. Through the LSU Howard Hughes Medical Institute, or HHMI, Program, she spent the summer of 2014 researching antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis at the GIANT Innovation Campus in Grenoble, France. She plans to pursue an MD/Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, with a long-term career goal of developing novel treatment methods for chronic respiratory diseases.

“I would like to thank the Office of Strategic Initiatives faculty and staff, particularly Mrs. Melissa Crawford and the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program, for encouraging me to pursue undergraduate research and providing me with the resources to do so,” Hogan said. “Dr. Hayes has been the best research mentor possible, pushing me to become involved in every part of the research process.”

Both Smoak and Hogan are involved in service both on and off LSU’s campus. Smoak has served on the College of Engineering Student Council and is a member of honors societies in LSU’s College of Engineering and College of Agriculture. Hogan has served as fundraising chair for Golden Key, an LSU service club and honor society, and is a member of the College of Engineering’s Diversity Ambassadors. Both have volunteered throughout the local community, including at Baton Rouge Women’s Hospital, as Reading Buddies in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools, and as math & science tutors for Upward Bound.

“Continuing the remarkable track record of LSU students in the Goldwater Scholarship competition, Mollie and Katie are impressive undergraduate researchers, and outstanding scholars,” said Drew Lamonica Arms, Ogden Honors College Director of Fellowship Advising. “I’m delighted that the Goldwater Foundation has recognized their potential to make significant advances in biomedical engineering, and I hope their successes encourage more of our LSU undergraduate researchers to pursue national fellowships and awards.”

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesmen, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The foundation’s mission is to assist undergraduate students in becoming professional scientists, mathematicians and engineers. To that end, its scholarships provide one and two-year $7,500 stipends to sophomore and junior undergraduate students pursuing research in these fields. Goldwater Scholarships are widely considered one of the most prestigious undergraduate awards available to students of the sciences.

LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College

The Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Honors College typically admits the top 10 percent of incoming LSU freshmen, and provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.  

LSU College of Engineering

Founded in 1908, the LSU College of Engineering offers 11 undergraduate degree programs and confers approximately 650 bachelor’s degrees per year, ranking it in the top 10 percent nationally for graduates. In 2013, it became the largest academic college in the LSU System and the fifth fastest growing engineering college in the nation. One-hundred and thirty-five faculty members engage in education, research, and commercialization with a strategic focus on research indigenous to Louisiana: energy and environmental sustainability, and natural and built infrastructure.


The Louisiana Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or LA-STEM, Research Scholars Program is a program managed by the LSU Office of Strategic Initiatives, or OSI. OSI’s vision is to support the high achievements of LSU students, faculty, and staff through education, mentoring, and research.