Texas Tech University

Madison Howard Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

TTU graduating senior Madison Howard

Physics/Math Graduating Senior Headed to Caltech for Graduate Work

4.26.2022 | Toni Salama

Madison Howard, a graduating senior majoring in physics and mathematics, has won a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. The fellowship is the most prestigious graduate student fellowship awarded in basic science and engineering in the United States and commonly goes to students already in graduate school.

“Howard's selection as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow is a highly significant accomplishment,” said Sung-Won Lee, professor and physics department chair.

The Lubbock native will begin her graduate studies at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in September 2022. And, because Caltech offered Howard a fellowship for her first year there, she will hold the three-year NSF Graduate Research Fellowship funds in reserve to cover her second, third and fourth years.

During her studies at Texas Tech, Howard has taken part in research conducted in the Department of Physics & Astronomy's Advanced Particle Detector Laboratory—a place from which next-gen technology may be deployed to CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research). Her most recent work has been with the Muon Tomography group, where she is developing a system using Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), integrated circuitry that can be customized by the end user.

“I am working on developing an FPGA-based data acquisition system for a muon telescope,” she said.

Howard's interest in physics was first sparked in a high-school physics class. But narrowing her focus in such a vast field took a bit longer.

“For High Energy Physics (HEP), it took some trial and error,” she said. “I explored a few research areas before joining the HEP group at Texas Tech in 2020 and finding my niche.”

Certainly, both fellowships will contribute to Howard's academic goals. But she wants to spread their influence even farther.

“I hope to meaningfully contribute to scientific understanding in my field and foster an environment of inclusion and representation within physics,” Howard said. “The NSF fellowship will significantly contribute to making these dreams a reality through financial assistance and support for community involvement.”