Buena Vista University Student Receives EPA Research Fellowship

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Recipient is one of only 30 U.S. students to be awarded fellowship, which provides financial support for undergraduate study and an EPA facility internship, and plans to research emerging contaminants.

Carolyn McDermott, junior at Buena Vista University and EPA GRO Fellowship recipient

Carolyn McDermott, junior at Buena Vista University and EPA GRO Undergraduate Fellowship recipient

Carolyn’s ability to approach research in a holistic manner and acute understanding of method development make her a perfect candidate for this amazing opportunity, and I have no doubt she will benefit greatly from this experience.

Carolyn McDermott, a Buena Vista University (BVU) junior biology major from Lincoln, Nebraska, has received a Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Undergraduate Fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

McDermott is one of only 30 students from throughout the country selected to receive the fellowship. She will receive financial support of $20,700 per academic year for her junior and senior years of undergraduate study and $8,600 of support for a 12 week long internship at an EPA research facility during the summer of her junior year.

McDermott plans to use the fellowship to further her interest in research on emerging contaminants. “These contaminants are found in everyday ‘down the drain’ products like shampoo and antibacterial soap,” said McDermott. “A prime example would be microbeads found in facial cleansers. They are easily left unfiltered in waste water treatment facilities and run off into nearby water systems. These nanoparticles can then absorb toxins and are consumed by fish or other aquatic organisms, thus leading to the bioaccumulation of said toxins.”

“Researching environmental impacts of emerging contaminants requires a unique understanding of biological life cycles, ecosystem dynamics, chemical interactions and accurate use of instrumental techniques for data analyses,” said Dr. Melinda Coogan, associate professor of biology and McDermott’s research advisor. “Carolyn’s ability to approach research in a holistic manner and acute understanding of method development make her a perfect candidate for this amazing opportunity, and I have no doubt she will benefit greatly from this experience. This is an outstanding accomplishment, and we are all very proud of her.”

After finishing her undergraduate degree, McDermott plans to enter into a doctorate program and focus on toxicology and chemical ecology.

About Buena Vista University
Founded in 1891, Buena Vista University offers 43 majors and 15 pre-professional programs that blend liberal arts with real-world applications, preparing students for lifelong success. Its quality academic programs, faculty, facilities, and technology result in 97 percent of BVU’s recent graduates being employed or enrolled in graduate/professional schools within six months of graduation, based on a 98 percent survey response rate. Generous merit and need-based financial aid programs, and support for academic travel, research, and internships, make BVU an affordable option for all students and, combined with its academic programs, has led U.S. News & World Report to rank BVU as the third best value school among Midwest Regional Colleges and to an A-rating from Standard & Poor’s. Visit http://www.bvu.edu.

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Jill Heisterkamp
Buena Vista University
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