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Students win prestigious Hollings Scholarship


Three Ohio University Honors Tutorial College students won the highly competitive National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship, an award that will allow them to pursue a paid research internship in a government lab.

Helen Cothrel, Samuel Johnson and Jessica Linder will receive academic assistance (up to a maximum of $8,000 per year and renewable for a second year) for full-time study during the academic year and a 10-week, full-time internship position during the summer at a NOAA facility.

Cothrel, who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in astrophysics as well as a minor in mathematics, hopes to become a college professor and plans to apply to graduate school at the Max Planck Institutes in Germany to study astrophysics and eventually earn a Ph.D. in that field.

“Max Planck, with extensive resources for its programs in astronomy and astrophysics, appeals to me because it brings together researchers and students from across the globe and promotes vital cooperation and passion for discovery," Cothrel said.

Although Max Planck is her first choice, she also plans to apply to several other schools with outstanding programs in astrophysics, including Case Western Reserve University and Cornell University.  Her recommenders for the Hollings Scholarship were David F.J. Tees and Madappa Prakash in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Samuel Johnson is a chemistry major, seeking minors in physics and mathematics, and intending to pursue graduate work in atmospheric chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

“I am fascinated by the research group studying nitrous oxide photolysis. Graduate work would give me an unprecedented opportunity to learn about how a small concentration of chemicals can affect the entire global climate,” Johnson said.

 Johnson plans to join the Air Force’s Officer Training School and once commissioned, he hopes to teach at the Air Force Academy where he can study the effects stellar plasma has on the global climate as well as atmospheric chemical processes.

“I hope to use my educational background, as well as classroom and lab experience, to contribute to solving the problem of methane pollution in our environment,” Johnson said.

His recommenders for the Hollings Scholarship were Lauren McMills and Hugh Richardson in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Jessica Linder will earn her degree in environmental and plant biology and plans to pursue her master’s and later a doctoral degree in the field of remediation at a university on the Gulf Coast, such as Tulane University in New Orleans.

“My career goal is to teach at a public university in order to educate students about plant biology, foster critical thinking, and acquaint students with the realities of the scientific world as well as pursue my own research,” Linder said.

 She plans to study anthropogenic effects on natural resources and the ecosystem, assessing how ecosystems are affected by pollutants and, just as importantly, by remediation efforts. She may be able to study the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, for example. Jessica’s recommenders were Harvey Ballard and Morgan Vis in the Department of Environmental and Plant Biology.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hollings Scholarship is designed to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology and education and foster multidisciplinary training opportunities as well as increase public understanding and support for stewardship of the ocean and atmosphere and improve environmental literacy in order to improve scientific and environmental education in the United States.