SD Mines Student & NASA Intern Named Goldwater Scholar, Plans to Pursue Cancer Research

RAPID CITY, S.D. (PRWEB) April 10, 2015

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology student Jesse Hinricher has been named a 2015 Barry Goldwater Scholar. The chemical engineering and chemistry double major from Pipestone, Minn., was one of 260 students nationwide selected from a pool of 1,206 to receive the prestigious award, which carries a maximum scholarship of $ 7,500 for up to two years.

Hinricher, who will graduate in 2017, plans to pursue a Ph.D. in medicinal organic synthesis to research a pharmaceutical cure for diseases such as cancer and Alzheimers. The cause hits close to home.

“My best friend was diagnosed with cancer when he was 17. I watched as he underwent months of intensive treatment. Each seemingly barbaric surgery and chemotherapy session destroyed more of his resolve. His morale was an innocent casualty in the fight for a cure – we can and must do better. I fully believe that there exists some combination of atoms, some molecular structure, that will kill cancer without also nearly killing the patient,” Hinricher said.

Aware of the wide variety of obstacles presented by a quest to cure cancer, Hinricher believes the best preparation comes from learning and experiencing as much as possible. During his time at Mines, he’s shown an impressive versatility in his research. Last year, he was awarded a $ 10,700 stipend from the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium for a 16-week NASA internship at the Kennedy Space Center.

“NASA’s next endeavor is to establish human colonies on other celestial bodies. Paramount to this enterprise, NASA must discover which, if any, useful resources are available by sending rovers to explore potential colonies. I had the privilege of contributing to the pilot mission set to launch in 2018, which will determine the feasibility of using autonomous robots to search for, analyze and harvest resources.”

During his semester-long internship, Hinricher focused on lunar excavation, integrating a sample delivery system into the framework of analytical instruments that will be used to determine the quality of lunar soil at the dig site.

Since these instruments analyze water vapor and other gas samples, it is essential that temperature be tightly controlled. To that end, Hinricher also designed and performed several tests on resistive temperature detectors to determine the most accurate and lightweight options for the task.

On campus, Hinricher is involved in the American Chemical Society, Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity – Beta Phi Chapter, American Institute of Chemical Engineers and Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.

“Jesse is a great student and I’m very pleased that he has earned this honor,” said Heather Wilson, SD Mines president. “The best students at Mines can compete with the best students anywhere and it’s good to see more of our exceptional students applying for scholarships like the Goldwater, Mitchell, Udall and Rhodes.”

Recent Goldwater Scholarship recipients have gone on to receive 86 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Awards, 123 Churchill Scholarships and numerous other distinguished awards such as National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation is a federally endowed agency whose program honoring Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to foster and encourage outstanding sophomore and juniors to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, natural sciences and engineering. Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has bestowed more than 7,000 scholarships worth approximately $ 48 million.

See more photos of Hinricher in the lab:


About SDSM&T

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,798 students from 45 states and 39 foreign countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate is 98 percent, with an average early-career salary for graduates of $ 65,600, according to the 2014-2015 PayScale report. Find us online at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at

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