Record Number: 741
Title: Former Great Falls College Student Frankie Johnston awarded Goldwater Scholarship
Date: 2021/04/19

Montana Technological University junior Frankie Johnston has been awarded the 2021 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. The award is the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship awarded in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering in the United States.

Before transferring to Montana Tech, Johnston was a student at Great Falls College MSU during the 2017-18 school year.

While at Great Falls College, Johnston worked with Dr. Brenda Canine on a research project comparing the levels of probiotics in Kombucha tea cultures to commercially available, over-the-counter probiotics. She was interested in seeing whether a living culture of the microbes would be more viable than the encapsulated form. This project earned an Awards for Research in

Engineering and Science from the Montana Space Grant Consortium because it has implications for space travel since sending things to space is expensive so taking a culture and keeping it growing could prove to be much more effective than taking pre-packaged probiotics for multiple astronauts, Canine said.

"Frankie's work was very self-guided, and she worked diligently outside normal school hours, including weekends and holidays, to complete her work," Canine said. "Her work could have direct impacts on space exploration as human microbiological health will be an important consideration in future long-term manned space flight missions."

Johnston is pursuing a degree in geological engineering at Montana Tech. Frankie conducts research using Montana Tech's state-of-the-art earthquake simulating shake table in Dr. Mary MacLaughlin's research group in the geological engineering department. She also serves as the president of the Geo Club and organizes rockhounding trips around the state.
MacLaughlin, a professor in the geological engineering department and Johnston's mentor, said, "Frankie Johnston is a brilliant scholar and researcher. It has been a pleasure to be her mentor for the past two years. I am very proud that Montana Tech has been able to provide the tools and support needed for Frankie to establish herself as one of the up-and-coming young researchers in the exciting field of earthquake engineering."

"I am excited and honored to receive this award," Johnston said. "I want to thank the Goldwater committee and Montana Tech for giving me this amazing opportunity. I want to thank my letter writers Mary Maclaughlin, Paul Thale and Brenda Canine for introducing me to the world of research. I would also like to thank my Mother, Ute Johnston, for supporting me through both the good days and the bad ones."

Frankie intends to pursue a doctorate in applied geophysics and conduct research on how geomechanical properties of rock influence and react to seismicity to create an earthquake early warning system.

Montana Tech Chancellor Dr. Les Cook added, "Earning a 2021 Goldwater Scholar is an enormous accomplishment that brings pride and distinction to our entire campus. Frankie and her team of faculty mentors represent the best of Montana Tech -- they are hardworking and innovative, and well-deserving of this award. We look forward to seeing how Frankie's work will impact geophysics in the future."

Goldwater Scholars have impressive academic and research credentials that have garnered the attention of prestigious post-graduate fellowship programs. Goldwater Scholars have been awarded 94 Rhodes Scholarships, 150 Marshall Scholarships, 170 Churchill Scholarships, 109 Hertz Fellowships, and numerous other distinguished awards like the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

The Goldwater Foundation is a federally endowed agency established in 1986. The scholarship program honoring U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics fields. The Goldwater Scholarship is the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields.

The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Montana Technological University and Great Falls College MSU communications contributed to this report.

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