Ds Scholarship

Astronomy student wins major scholarship at Cambridge | Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine

Spencer Hurt is one of 16 students to win the 2022-23 Churchill Scholarship, which supports a year of graduate study at Cambridge University.


The Winston Churchill Foundation USA today announced that Spencer Hurt, a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, is one of 16 students nationwide to win the 2022 Churchill Scholarship.

The Churchill Scholarship supports one year of study at the University of Cambridge and is awarded to students who have outstanding academic records, demonstrated talent for research, originality, creativity and “outstanding personal qualities”.

Hurt is a senior in Fruita, Colorado, majoring in astronomy. At Cambridge, he plans to complete a master’s degree in astronomy. Hurt is the fourth student at the University of Colorado Boulder to win a Churchill Scholarship.

at the top of the page: Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, characterized by the planet’s cloudy atmosphere and the residual light of a near-complete star (NASA/ESA/JPL). above: Spencer Hurt is one of this year’s Churchill Scholarship recipient.

Hurt, who has never traveled outside the United States, said he is excited to study abroad during the next academic year, doing research with prominent faculty at the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy.

“It is my intention to focus my work on outer dust (debris found in the habitable zones of stars), which provides clues about the environmental planets that form and evolve within them. Besides evolution as a researcher, I look forward to meeting other Churchill scientists, all of whom contribute to fascinating work ranging from mathematics Pure to Medicine.

“I am deeply grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way, including my research mentors, faculty in the Department of Astrophysics and Planetary Science, and Deborah Fells in the Office of Best Scholarships.”

Viles said Hurt was “a really cool young scientist.” She noted that in addition to the Churchill Scholarship, he won two coveted Bachelor of Science awards last year: the Goldwater Scholarship and the Astronaut Scholarship.

“These awards recognize his research path, academic performance, and potential to become a pioneer in astrophysics in the future,” said Viles, adding, “His accomplishments bring great honor to CU, and I can’t wait to see where his path takes him.”

Hurt works in the lab of Meredith MacGregor, assistant professor of astrophysics and planetary sciences. She said, “It has been a pleasure working with Spencer over the past year and a half since he came to CU. Given his achievements to date, we will be fortunate to have him join the ranks of professional astrophysicists in the future. I am honored to help guide him as he embarks on his career. “.

Hurt started his college career with no astrophysics experience. “However, I took an astronomy class out of curiosity, and it wasn’t long until we had nights at the campus observatory,” Hurt said last year.

“Whether I’m staying up until 4 a.m. photographing nebulae and galaxies or devising plans to capture a planet passing between us and its host star, I quickly realized I wanted to pursue a career in astrophysics.”

In his undergraduate research, he uses telescopes and observational data to discover and characterize planetary systems.

This includes searching for exoplanets and brown dwarfs using radial velocities, transits and direct imaging. I also use radio telescopes to image and model disks of stellar debris, the remnants of planet formation. “With these observations, we can conduct ‘planetary archaeology’ and bring the dynamic history of the system together.”

His accomplishments bring great honor to CU, and I can’t wait to see where his path will take him.”

“Every discovery of a world outside our own is exciting in its own right; however, as we discover a more complete picture of the broader set of exoplanets, we also begin to better understand the processes that occur during planet formation and evolution. Ultimately, it helps us understand the origins of our solar system and life. on Earth better while exploring the possibilities for habitability elsewhere in the universe.”

The Churchill Scholarship covers full tuition fees, a competitive stipend, travel costs and the opportunity to apply for a $4,000 Special Research Scholarship.

The scholarship program was established at the request of Sir Winston Churchill as part of the founding of Churchill College, Cambridge. He is fulfilling his vision of deepening the partnership between the United States and the United Kingdom to advance science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, ensuring our future prosperity and security.

Churchill College was established in 1960 mostly as a college of science and technology and a Commonwealth and National memorial to Sir Winston Churchill. The Churchill Scholarship dates back to 1963.

Students who are interested in these or other top scholarships and want more information are encouraged to contact Deborah Viles, viles@colorado.edu, at the CU Boulder Office of Best Scholarships.

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