April 20, 2020

Physics major, Mathematics minor

from Alexandria, Virginia


Tyler Howerton '21 is Hampden-Sydney College’s fifth Goldwater Scholar in just seven years. A starting offensive lineman with Tiger Football, Tyler is H-SC’s first physics major to earn the impressive Goldwater distinction.

Tyler Howerton '21The Goldwater Scholarship represents the highest level of undergraduate achievement in natural sciences, math, and engineering. A physics major and mathematics minor with a 4.00 GPA, Tyler is also a starting offensive lineman on the Tiger Football team, a member of the 2019 Academic All-America® Division III Football First Team, and a two-time Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) All-Academic Team member.

“Tyler is, without a doubt, the best student I have ever had,” says Mike McDermott, Hampden-Sydney dean of the faculty and professor of physics and astronomy. “He is exceedingly bright, motivated, and personable. He not only grasps the material quickly, but he goes beyond the core concepts to develop a deeper understanding by connecting the current material with material from other classes. He is truly a model student.”

This past fall, Trey Thurman, associate professor of physics and astronomy, mentored Tyler on an independent research project exploring environmental radioactivity. “Tyler is confident in his abilities,” Thurman says. “But he has maintained a humbleness that allows his fellow students to seek him out for assistance, which he is very willing to provide.”


"Tyler is, without a doubt, the best student I have ever had. He is exceedingly bright, motivated, and personable. He not only grasps the material quickly, but he goes beyond the core concepts to develop a deeper understanding. He is truly a model student."

~Mike McDermott, dean of the faculty


Tyler Howerton '21 playing football at H-SCIn his senior year, Tyler’s research will build on skills he developed working with Thurman. “My project for next year will be a more advanced application of gamma ray spectroscopy,” Tyler explains. “With this experiment, I will study how zinc behaves within the body. I am particularly interested in the interaction of zinc and the pancreas and its relation to diabetes.” Tyler will be working closely with both Thurman and McDermott.

Interim Director of Fellowship Advising and Elliott Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Nicholas Nace is the College’s representative to the Goldwater Foundation. “I was struck by Tyler’s resilience as much as his sheer intelligence and obvious good nature.” The process of applying for a Goldwater Scholarship is not for the faint of heart. Despite months on end of e-mails, one-on-one meetings, interviews, letter requests, written proposals, and seemingly endless edits, Nace was amazed to see that “Tyler remained chipper through it all—smiling the whole time.”

“It’s not easy but it’s worth it,” Tyler says of his grueling schedule of research, academics, and NCAA athletics. “I put the pressure on myself to do as well as possible, then I manage my time to make sure I get it done and done well. My family has also had a huge influence on me; they push me to accomplish my goals in the classroom and on the field.” Tyler notes that his commitment to excellence occasionally means sacrificing some sleep or fun, but his steadfastness is clearly paying off with recent achievements like the Goldwater Scholarship and Academic All-American distinction.

After he graduates from H-SC next year, Tyler plans to pursue a Ph.D. in nuclear physics and study radiation in an effort to develop solutions to human health problems such as diabetes and cancer. “I know that the lessons of honor and good conduct as well as the diverse and intense education I have received at H-SC will stick with me wherever I go,” Tyler says. “I'm proud to be a part of such an incredible institution and can't wait to continue my journey in my senior year on the Hill.”

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