AU Environmental Science Students See Success in State Merit Scholarship Program

Photo Caption: AU students Cassandra Nix and Zach Weilnau, both of whom are recipients of an Ohio Academy of Science environmental science merit scholarship, measure developmental differences in sun versus shade leaves in an ecology class in Kettering Science Center.

9/17/13 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University’s environmental science program received word from the Ohio Academy of Science earlier this year that its science students have realized great success in the academy’s merit scholarship program.

“Within the  past year, Ashland University students have received more Ohio environmental science and engineering scholarships of the $63,000 awarded from The Ohio Academy of Science and the Ohio Environmental Education Fund than students at any of the other 15 Ohio Schools with students receiving scholarships,” said Dr. Lynn Elfner, the recently retired CEO of the Ohio Academy of Science.

Since 1990, when the scholarship program began, $627,450 has been awarded statewide to 255 students at 47 Ohio colleges and universities. The program is designed to motivate students to enter environmental fields of science and engineering and reward outstanding undergraduate students based on merit.

“AU Environmental Science majors have had success with the Ohio Academy of Science Ohio Environmental Science & Environmental Engineering Undergraduate scholarship program in the past,” said Dr. Patricia Saunders, director of Ashland University’s Environmental Science program. “These last two years, however, our Environmental Science students have been having an especially strong run. The OAS values undergraduate research experience. They even list the specific project topics of the awardees in their press releases. Undergraduate research is something that AU does really well.”

The scholarship is given to students who can demonstrate their knowledge and commitment to careers in environmental sciences or environmental engineering. In order to be selected for this scholarship, the student must have at least a 3.0 GPA, submit evidence of original research, extracurricular activities, internship history and recommendation letters.

The recent Ashland University recipients are:

-- Amanda Kriner, daughter of Joseph and Kelly Kriner of Medina, Ohio, who was a double major in environmental science and biology major, and graduated in May 2013.

-- Kelly Sullivan, daughter of Dr. Daniel W. Sullivan and Lu Ann Sullivan of Ashland, who was double major in environmental science and biology major, and graduated in May 2013.

-- Mitchell Ramsey, son of Steven and Renee A. Ramsey of Bucyrus, Ohio, who is double major in environmental science and geology.

-- Cassandra Nix, daughter of William and Margaret M. Nix of Elyria, Ohio, who is triple major in environmental science, biology, and toxicology.

-- Zach Weilnau of Willard, OH, who is double major in environmental science and biology.

The AU students are thrilled about being chosen to participate in the scholarship program.

Nix stated, "The Ohio Academy of Science Environmental Science and Engineering Scholarship is a great opportunity for upperclassmen to apply for extra money to help with the cost of college. Many scholarships are for incoming freshmen, so receiving this scholarship was beneficial for me financially later in my college career.”

Nix is involved in two projects while here at Ashland. The first one is an individual project and she is focusing on the invasive plant named jimsonweed, and developing a rapid, cost-effective method for extraction of Jimsonweed's toxic alkaloids, scopolamine and atropine. The second project is within a group and focuses on the toxic amounts of saline deicing agents to the aquatic amphipod, Hyalella azteca.

Ramsey’s project involved a 10-week internship this summer in College Park, Maryland, through the Earnest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship program that is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He compared NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) Multi-Satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) 3B42 product with Vaisala's Global Lightning Dataset 360 (GLD 360), and the original goal of this project was to find when and where dry thunderstorms occurred.

The main research Kriner was doing during the time that she was applying for this scholarship was with Professor Merrill Tawse, a professional instructor of biology at Ashland University. Her research was focused on identifying diets of bats in the area through fecal pellet analysis and continued into radio tracking of bats. This research was directed toward locating bats in the Mohican forest in order to determine whether any had contracted white nose syndrome.  

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###

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AU Environmental Science Students See Success in State Merit Scholarship Program