Current Recipients

SAEMS 2018-2019 Scholarships Awarded

This year SAEMS awarded a total of $12,000 in scholarships to 12 very deserving University of Arizona students. A total of 39 applicants submitted applications for more than $100,000 in requested scholarships. With many outstanding undergraduate and graduate students, the SAEMS scholarship committee had a difficult task narrowing the applicants to 14 applicants who were interviewed, and in determining the awards for the 12 finalists.

This year’s scholarship committee members included: B.J. Cordova (SAEMS Education Chair), Arizona Transportation Builders Association; Jenn Williams, AECOM; Carlos Lopez, Air National Guard; Dawn Weyer, Pima Community College; and Max DiSante, Turner Laboratories.

1st Place Graduate Student Awards (tie):

Drew Eppehimer, pursuing degrees in Aquatic Ecology and Arid Lands Resource Sciences, with a minor in Natural Resources, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship. Drew’s short-term career aspirations are to complete a Ph.D., then long-term to seek positions as a post-doctoral researcher of aquatic ecology at a Research One university, and later to seek interdisciplinary federal scientist positions.

 Norma Villagomez-Marquez, pursuing a degree in Soil Water Science, with a minor in Analytical Chemistry, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship. Norma’s short-term goal is to be the first in her family to graduate with a Ph.D., then to use her background in management, science, and engineering over the long-term to conduct water science research, and communicate that science, to address water-related environmental challenges and make meaningful scientific contributions to society.

Additional Graduate Student Winners Include:

Jenna Honan, pursuing a degree in Soil, Water, and Environmental Science, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Jenna’s short-term goals include completing her Master’s degree this fall and pursuing a Ph. D beginning next spring to continue research analyzing use of modeling programs for environmental and health risk assessments on the Santa Cruz River, while continuing work with Engineers without Borders on the San Carlos Apache Reservation for an irrigation project and water quality testing that will expand agricultural land use in the area and increase nutritional independence in an area currently considered to be a food desert. Longer term she plans to use her background in French and Environmental Science to bolster environmental infrastructure projects in Northern African countries, particularly as it relates to the lack of potable water, and educational outreach to communities.

Derek Koller, pursuing a degree in Public Health (Industrial Hygiene), has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Derek plans to complete his Masters in Public Health and obtain a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH) designation, to then pursue more project work related to protecting people form occupational exposures. He also hopes to obtain a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) designation, and pursue a position overseeing the health and safety within an organization, focusing on reducing and preventing both immediate physical hazards and long-term hazards of occupational exposures. He also plans to continue to work on opportunities for SAEMS to interact with other organizations of Environmental Health and Safety Professionals such as the local ASSE and AIHA chapters, to help guide others in their career in the same spirit of those who selflessly guided him on his career path.

Mojtaba Azadi Aghdam, pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering, with a minor in Environmental Engineering, has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship. Mojtaba is interested in continuing as a researcher in an academic community to conduct top-notch research, interact with eager students, and lead a team to achieve the final goal which is expanding our knowledge and technology in the field of potable water.

Ali Mardi, pursuing a degree in Environmental Engineering, with a minor in Atmospheric Science, has been awarded a $500 scholarship. Ali’s priority in the coming years is to publish peer-reviewed publications as part of earning a PhD degree and diversify into new areas such as applying new techniques (e.g., machine learning) to his current area of research that relies on large data-sets. His long-term aspiration is to become a professor at a university and be involved in the policy-making process and be able to assist decision makers to make less harmful and more sustainable decisions with regard to environmental considerations.

Rebecca Bernat, pursuing a degree in Environmental Science, with a minor in Water, Society, and Policy, has been awarded a $500 scholarship. Rebecca’s ultimate goal is to become a public servant with the European Union (E.U.) to contribute to drafting policies, monitoring the implementation of environmental laws, and analyzing and advising on major policy matters. She would like to be in a position of influence to help facilitate scientific collaboration between the E.U. authorities; international universities and research institutes; and environmental nongovernmental and advocacy organizations (NGOs). She is also interested in developing her Ph.D. dissertation work into a book designed for college students who want to combine science and policy analysis, detailing the scientific process of conducting policy analysis on water resources. She also wants to continue research on managed aquifer recharge, leading a team of professors and students to offer solutions and recommendations to water supply issues in the Southwest of the U.S. and around the Mediterranean Basin. She also plans to support the work of NGOs working to mitigate environmental crises in neighboring countries that seek quick recovery from difficulties related to water supply.

Stephanie Doerries, pursuing a degree in Natural Resources, with a minor in Statistics, has been awarded a $500 scholarship. Stephanie intends to earn her Ph.D., then work for or with government agencies in the desert southwest as a wildlife biologist is to design and conduct effective research projects that include collecting and analyzing meaningful field data to inform management decisions. She would like to work for a state wildlife management agency researching and monitoring ungulate populations while implementing management actions to ensure long-term health and viability of these populations. She would like to maintain a strong relationship with university partners, collaborating with professors to address management needs and incorporate novel analytical techniques into field research. Longer term, she would like to be a program manager to direct a wider array of research and management projects, and offering mentorship opportunities to share her expertise and passion with younger biologists.

Diego Martinez-Lugo, pursuing a Geography and Development degree, has been awarded a $500 scholarship. Diego’s overall career aspiration in the environmental field is to become a professor teaching about race and environmental justice and conducting applied research to assist marginalized communities in receiving sustainable technologies. In the short term, as the first in his family to graduate with a higher education degree, he hopes to gain professional experience translating his education and passion about climate and environmental justice into community action to work in a climate adaptation organization towards limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees and ensuring that those most vulnerable to global climate change are resilient. He intends to later return to Graduate school to pursue a Ph.D in Geography and Development, to be able to teach the next generation of environmental leaders.

1st Place Undergraduate Student Award:

Marci Caballero-Reynolds, pursuing a Change Ecology and Management degree, has been awarded a $2,000 scholarship. Marci’s short-term goals are to continue involvement in the natural sciences through collaboration with different organizations, professors, graduate students, and undergraduates. She will soon be seeking National Science Foundation research grants as an undergraduate, then pursuing opportunities in graduate programs relating to Restoration Ecology in the Madrean Archipelago for restoration research on different types of ecosystems, and working in collaboration with different stakeholders. Longer term her goal is to become a research scientist and information broker to enable the public to understand science. She hopes to communicate research to different stakeholders, land managers, and policy makers through both scientific and creative publications.

Additional Undergraduate Student Winners Include:

Mely Bohlman, pursuing degrees in Environmental Science, and Spanish/Portuguese, with a minor in Sustainable Plant Systems, has been awarded a $500 scholarship. Partway through the upcoming school year she will begin pursuing an Accelerated Master’s Program in Environmental Science, and is already preparing recent research for publication. Later, she plans to seek a Ph.D. in either Environmental Science or Public Health with Latin American Studies, investigating how resource extraction sites affect human health, through exposure of soil, water, agriculture or dust with heavy metal contamination. Her long-term career aspiration is to become an international research scientist in academia, working with co-created citizen science projects partnering with both U.S. and Latin American underserved populations on environmental health and climate change related issues. She also wants to return to the Amazon Rainforest to help address concerns of indigenous populations who are living near resource extraction sites on a local scale, through the scopes of political ecology and social justice.

Emily Runnion, pursuing a Natural Resources (Wildlife Conservation and Management) degree, has been awarded a $500 scholarship. Emily plans on applying for a Green-Fund Grant to implement a feline catch-release/spay-neuter program on campus. She is traveling to Swaziland to complete a nine-week research program, through the University of Florida for an independent study on arthropod ecosystem-services, with the goal of publishing a paper. She will also be working on an Honors Thesis studying reptile phenology. She hopes to get a job as a research assistant in a lab focused on herpetology, then pursue a Masters degree in Ecology, with specific research focused on reptiles and amphibians, and the ecosystem-services they provide. Her career interests include biologist research positions, preferably in NGOs. After gaining adequate professional experience, she hopes to attain a Ph.D.