A Unity College undergraduate has been awarded a $50,000 federal fellowship to undertake sustainability research at America’s Environmental College.

Rae-Ann MacLellan-Hurd ‘18, an Earth and Environmental Science major from Franklin, Mass., was awarded a $50,000 fellowship under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships for Undergraduate Environmental Study.

The fellowships help fund two years of undergraduate study and a three-month summer internship at an EPA facility.

“By enhancing and supporting quality environmental education, the fellowship encourages promising students to pursue careers in environmentally-related fields and to continue their education beyond the baccalaureate level,” the EPA said in a news release.

Unity College officials praised MacLellan-Hurd for her award, believed to be the largest research grant ever conferred upon a student at America’s Environmental College.

“Rae-Ann is a highly intelligent and very hard working student,” said Dr. James Killarney, Assistant Professor of Environmental Chemistry in the Unity College Center for Sustainability and Global Change. “On top of that, she is devoted to both researching and protecting our natural water systems. She is an ideal awardee for this prestigious fellowship.”

“Rae-Ann is a promising young scientist and this award will serve as a catalyst for her as she continues on to graduate school and a successful career in this field,” said Dr. Kevin M. Spigel, Associate Professor of Geoscience and Co-Director of Undergraduate Research. “Winning this award is a testament to her hard work and capacity to perform quality research.”

Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury praised MacLellan-Hurd’s academic prowess and tenacity, saying Unity faculty and staff have helped dozens of students win exceptional access to research partnerships with faculty, nonprofits, government, and the business community.

“Unity students are different,” Khoury said. “They are not afraid to engage in high-level research opportunities beyond the classroom. I’m thrilled this award will allow Rae-Ann to be involved in professional field work that will strengthen her career and improve society’s prospects for sustainability.”

MacLellan-Hurd, a graduate of Franklin High School in Franklin, Mass., said she would use the funds on tuition and for her ongoing research looking into the flow of phosphorus and nitrogen through Lake Winnecook, with attention to runoff, tributary flow, and sediment-water interface reactions.

The fellowship will cover the costs of field work and supplies, and lab analyses, and will help defray other costs associated with her internship at an EPA regional laboratory in North Chelmsford, Mass., where she will assist in conducting a real-time sensor monitoring and wetland assessment project.

“Receiving this fellowship is a great honor, and I am excited to be able to develop and complete water quality research projects,” MacLellan-Hurd said. “It is going to be a lot of work and require some long days, but it will be more than worth it.”

MacLellan-Hurd lives in Taunton, Mass., and Auburn, Mass.

The EPA says it awarded the Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowships for Undergraduate Environmental Study to 34 students to provide new environmental research in the physical, biological, health and social sciences. The awards are part of a “national effort to help ensure that the United States meets its current and projected human resource needs in the environmental science, engineering, mathematics, and technology fields.”

“EPA recognizes that scientific, technical, engineering and mathematical competence is essential to the nation’s future well-being in terms of national security and competitive economic advantage,” the agency said. “The health and vitality of the economy is predicated, in part, on the availability of an adequate supply of scientists, technicians, engineers and mathematicians, to develop innovative technologies and solutions. This country must engage all available minds to address the challenges it faces.”

Thursday, June 02, 2016