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John B. George Award: Hayden Smotherman

Chosen from the Dean’s Award nominees and presented to the outstanding graduating senior in the college based on academic achievement and service to the university community.

Hayden Smotherman
Hometown: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
Graduation: Spring 2016

Why did you choose the University of Idaho?
It was close to home, affordable, but most of all, the physics department had interesting research and the university as a whole offered a breadth of academic disciplines that specialty schools simply lacked. For example, I was able to take several creative writing courses that had absolutely nothing to do with my major, but were fun and expanded my overall education.


Phys 484: Astrophysics


Phys 411

Research Project?
While not the most applicable to my major, I built a 2D 60W laser cutter in conjunction with 4 other students. That was certainly the most flashy and fun project I've worked on.


What is your favorite study tip?
Do it all the night before. No, just kidding, that's an awful idea. But honestly, no matter what tip I say, we're all going to end up doing that anyway.

What is your go-to study snack?
It might be boring, but I try not to eat when I'm working on homework or studying. Apart from getting all over my work, I just end up getting distracted by the food. That said, I'm partial to homemade fries with ranch dressing as a dipping sauce.

Campus Life

What UI memory makes you laugh the most?
At the time, it certainly wasn't funny, but looking back, I can't help but laugh a bit at how stressed I let myself become over individual assignments or even single courses. It's good to take one's education seriously, but there comes a point when that becomes counterproductive.

Dorm or Greek?
Neither! Off campus living, all the way!

Intramural Sports or Student Clubs?
I'm the Astronomy Club president, so now is my chance to advertise! Hey everyone, join Astronomy Club! We're on OrgSync and we look at stars and stuff. Plus, pizza! As far as sports go, I never was much of a fan of traditional sports, but I've been an avid rock climber since high school, and thankfully UI has an excellent indoor gym. Also, Resonate has been a great way to meet other students and hang out with a great group of people.

Tell us

What are your plans for after graduation?
I'm planning on completing my Ph.D. in Astronomy, which will probably mean that my last statement about learning not to stress out too much will become invalidated.

What should incoming first-year students know?
Do not worry if you don't know exactly what you want to do with your life. Almost none of us do. Relax, take your time and enjoy the classes you are taking, pray, check out the clubs and organizations on campus, and everything will work out fine. Oh, and take Calculus I. It'll help you understand the universe, and it's not "advanced" math; it's honestly the equivalent of Soc 101, but for math.

What advice to you have for other students in your major?
If you're a physics major, try to take as much math as you can early on. You really cannot have enough, and your physics classes will very quickly become several steps ahead of you, mathematically, if you do not get on top of it early on.


Hayden is also the recipient of the College of Science's Dean's Award, the Department of Mathematics' Chair’s Award for Excellence and the Department of Physics' Outstanding Graduating Senior Award.

Hayden Somtherman in front of the Admin building on UI campus
Physics major Hayden Smotherman is going on to earn his Ph.D. in Astronomy.


College of Science

Physical Address:
Mines 321

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3025
Moscow, ID 83844-3025

Phone: 208-885-6195

Fax: 208-885-6904


Web: College of Science