TU Undergraduate Wins Truman Scholarship

Monday, March 29, 1999

Starr N. Horne, a University of Tulsa junior who developed an innovative way to teach a course on the atomic structure of matter to first graders in Tulsa, has been named a 1999 winner of the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship.

This merit-based $30,000 scholarship is awarded to undergraduate students who plan to pursue graduate school and careers in government or public service.

Horne was selected from among 657 candidates nominated by 332 American colleges and universities. He will be among as many as 75 Truman Scholars that will be named in March and April by the Truman Scholarship Foundation.

“The university is proud of the fascinating project that Starr Horne has implemented through the Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC) program,” said TU President Bob Lawless. “He is an outstanding student with a strong commitment to public service.”

The Truman Scholarship Foundation says Truman Scholars are elected on the basis of “leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of ‘making a difference.’” Recipients must be in the top quarter of their class and be committed to careers in government, education, or the non-profit sector.

“This award will really help me accomplish my future goals,” said Horne, who plans to earn a Ph.D. degree in chemistry and counter proliferation and terrorism at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He eventually hopes to become a professor in chemistry with a focus on national terrorism policy.

Horne, a chemistry major from Fort Smith, Ark., participates in the university’s Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC) program, which allows undergraduates to take advanced courses and conduct research with the guidance of TU professors. He is a 1998 Goldwater scholarship winner, a National Merit Scholar, recipient of the French Anderson Scholarship for Chemistry and winner of the 1997 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Organic Chemistry Award. He was judged top high school tenor saxophone player in Arkansas in 1996.

Horne spent last summer at the Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque building advanced sensors to detect trace quantities of materials. He is interested in studying technical and political issues relative to chemical and biological weapons. He is the founder of Pugwash, a TU group interested in terrorism research and, according to Horne, “how scientists and engineers can apply their knowledge to counter terrorism.”

Horne’s heart was captivated, however, by first graders at Sts. Peter and Paul School where he taught the basics of atomic structure. “I learned the joy in seeing bored children’s eyes light up with the excitement of discovery,” said Horne. “If six-year-olds can learn hard science with such ease, what else could they learn? Cultural tolerance? Selflessness? The courage to believe that they could change the world?”

A significant number of the TU students in the TURC program have received national accolades for their work, including the prestigious Goldwater, Marshall and Truman scholarships as well as fellowships from the U. S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. Many have presented papers on their work at major academic conferences around the world - a rarity for undergraduates.

TU computer science professor Sujeet Shenoi, who founded TURC in 1993, says the cornerstone of the program is community service. “All TURC students are active in tutoring each other and in various community projects. It was really quite an accomplishment for Starr to develop a simple way to teach atomic structure and to make it a winner with first-grade students.”