2019 Recipients: Top Scholarships and Fellowships

2019 Astronaut Scholarship

  • Amanda Merkley

    Amanda Merkley is a senior studying computer engineering and mathematics. She has conducted research in CSU's ECE Department with Dr. Roy since September 2017. Her research focused on novel stochastic methods for analyzing manufacturing process variation of nanoscale components used in computer chips. She presented the resulting paper at an IEEE conference in Chandigarh, India, which won the student travel grant award for top student paper submission.

    Amanda has also conducted research in CSU's Department of Mathematics under Dr. Shipman on new techniques in computational topology, using it to study fractal patterns. She presented the results at the 2019 Joint Math Meeting in Baltimore.

    This summer, Amanda will intern at the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines at MIT to study the frequency patterns generated by the visual cortex of macaques.

2019 Boren Scholarship

  • Paine Lewis

    Paine Lewis is an undergraduate senior studying International Studies, Spanish, and Russian at CSU. In between high school and college he had the opportunity to volunteer in Latin America on three different occasions, defining his interest in international security and foreign languages.

    After graduation, Paine plans to pursue an MBA and hopes to work for the federal government. Outside of his studies, Paine enjoys boxing and climbing, primarily, but also any activity that's an excuse to be in the mountains.

2019 Critical Language Scholarships

  • Zoe Arndt

    Zoe is a first-generation student majoring in Zoology. She will be graduating in the spring semester of 2019. She studied abroad in Tanzania during her junior year at CSU, which lead her to becoming a peer advisor at the CSU Education Abroad Office.

    My dream career is to become a wildlife conservation researcher in East Africa. Hence, the CLS scholarship program will further my knowledge and comprehension of the Swahili language which will be useful in my goal of conducting wildlife conservation research in this region of the world where the official language is Swahili.

  • Sydney Spiegel

    Sydney Spiegel is a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in Chinese language. After working in numerous fields ranging from carpentry to emergency medicine he decided his true passions involved creating machines and collaborating with people from around the world.

    Before attending college, he traveled and lived in Europe, Africa, South and Central America. While abroad he realized that being able to speak foreign languages was critical to understanding and working with cultures outside the U.S.

    As a non-traditional transfer student, he is excited and eager to pursue all the opportunities available to him. Of those opportunities, choosing to study Mandarin was an easy choice because it would allow him to communicate with the most people and be involved in the cutting edge of technology.

    After graduation, Sydney plans to further his language skills with the assistance of a Fulbright Scholarship, or go directly into the workforce within an international engineering company. He aspires to work within the global community to solve complicated problems by improving communication between international teams.

2019 DADD RISE Scholarships

  • Michelle Hefner

    Michelle Hefner is a third-year undergraduate student from Santa Teresa, New Mexico. She is pursuing a Biomedical Engineering and Chemical & Biological Engineering dual-degree and is a transfer student and former NCAA Division III Women's basketball student-athlete. She credits her former university for allowing her to build important fundamental engineering skills and gaining well-rounded engineering project experience.

    After transferring to Colorado State University, Michelle got involved in many extracurricular activities including Engineers Without Borders, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and, at the time of publication, she is President-elect for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Michelle has also served as a peer-tutor for Modern Organic Chemistry and a learning assistant for the Department of Mathematics, where she developed a new found love for machine learning.

    When she's not diving into her coursework or working with student organizations, Michelle enjoys playing guitar, cooking, running a podcast with her roommate, and occasionally breaking ankles playing intramural basketball.

    Prior to the DAAD summer internship in 2019, Michelle took part in a semester abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She enjoys traveling very much and seeks opportunities to explore new cultures and learning environments. This, combined with her love for machine learning and its biomedical applications, inspired her to apply to the DAAD RISE program. Through the program, she will be working with a PhD student at RWTH Aachen in Aachen, Germany and will have the opportunity to do research involving neurofeedback, Brain-computer interfaces, fMRI, and psychosomatics.

  • Alyx Job

    Alyx Job is a second-year student studying Biomedical Sciences and Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology as a double major. She seeks to obtain her PhD after her undergraduate studies so that she can run her own research lab studying bacteria and viruses and the diseases they cause.

    Alyx currently works in a tuberculosis lab that studies TB drug resistance and helps with the development of novel drug types to combat antibiotic resistance. Her current work focuses on the identification of genetic mutations that cause resistance.

    She first looked into the DAAD RISE program due to her interest in traveling abroad but applied for the internship for the opportunity to learn more about science and research around the world. During the summer of 2019, she will be working on the development of an effective HIV vaccine in Regensburg, Germany. She will apply general research methods she learned at CSU while learning new techniques that apply to viruses and HIV specifically."

2019 Fulbright Fellowships

  • Alexis Haskins

    Alexis majored in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability with a minor in Conservation Biology at CSU. Her passion for environmental science expands across many sectors, one being environmental and human health.

    Alexis spent time at one of CSU's Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences labs where she focused on DNA damage and repair after environmental stress. She also researched soil carbon sequestration in bioenergy crops with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. Alexis is currently working with a non-profit analyzing Arctic and Antarctic policies and global threats from climate change.

    During her time at CSU, she had the opportunity to study in Iceland and see how Icelanders use nature to mitigate the energy crisis through renewable energies. Learning about renewable energy in Iceland sparked her interest in how nature might be used to solve global challenges in her own work and led her to Finland's research in nature-based solutions to immune diseases thought to be created by environmental factors.

    Alexis will spend the academic year of 2019-2020 at the University of Helsinki researching nature-based solutions to immune diseases using soil and plant microbial communities and clinical observations. She also hopes to pursue her interest in the Arctic within the local Finnish community. Alexis is thrilled and deeply honored to receive a Fulbright Fellowship.

  • Renee Ormond

    Born and raised in Tempe, Arizona, Renee got her first look at the importance of international relations and a taste for exploration when she served as a student ambassador to Zhenjiang, China at the age of 16. After that experience she studied in the International Studies undergraduate program at Colorado State University and minored in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Spanish and International Development.

    Because of her fantastic teachers at CSU, she discovered a passion for international development and social justice. After graduating Renee moved to Manizales, Colombia where she worked in a low-income public high school as part of the Colombian national peace process. She spent nearly two years there improving her Spanish and learning about empowering young people.

    After Colombia, Renee moved home to Arizona for a year and worked in a non profit that helped Latino immigrants integrated into life in the United States, with everything from English classes to social networking events. From there, Renee moved to Nicaragua to work with a bi-national non-governmental organization and help coordinate a public health project that sought to improve general health in rural mountain communities. Because of civil unrest in the country, Renee moved to the Dominican Republic to coordinate a housing and public health project with the same organization.

    Through all of her work, Renee has deepened her interest and appreciation of sustainable agricultural methods, public health, infrastructure, and education. She will begin a master's program at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom in the fall and plans to pursue a career of creating sustainable and impactful development projects that focus on economically empowering women and girls in various capacities. In her spare time, Renee loves to be outside, hopefully accompanied by a good book.

2019 Goldwater Scholars

  • Dillon Donaghy

    Dillon is a junior microbiology major with an interest in studying immunology and infectious disease. Throughout his undergraduate experience, he has been working in Dr. Christine Olver's research lab on campus gaining valuable experience as a research scientist. When he's not in class or the lab, he absolutely loves being outdoors. Whether its skiing, hiking, rafting or climbing, he enjoys it all!

  • Mikaela Elder

    Mikaela is a biochemistry major and a statistics minor who plans to graduate from CSU in May 2020. She began her undergraduate research experience in the lab of Dr. Eric Ross investigating the effects of mutation on segments of proteins linked to ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. From Dr. Ross and Dr. Sean Cascarina, Mikaela learned how to harness her creativity, curiosity, and knowledge about biochemical processes to troubleshoot and design experiments.

    She is now working on a bioinformatics project in the Ross lab employing these same skills and learning new skills, such as Python programming, to investigate a different question. She has also worked on a research project in the statistics department with Dr. Cooley where she's performing statistical analysis for a landfill gas expert, Dr. Bogner, who is investigating methane levels in landfills.

    Her research experience at CSU has taught her that her curiosity and creativity are well-suited for a career as a research scientist. Mikaela's career goal is to combine my areas of interest in biochemistry, statistics, math, and computer science by becoming a research scientist in the field of computational biology or computational molecular medicine. This fall, she will be applying to Ph.D. programs in computational biology and computational molecular medicine to pursue the advanced training that she will need to achieve her career goal.

  • Amanda Merkley

    Amanda Merkley is a senior studying computer engineering and mathematics. She has conducted research in CSU's ECE Department with Dr. Roy since September 2017. Her research focused on novel stochastic methods for analyzing manufacturing process variation of nanoscale components used in computer chips. She presented the resulting paper at an IEEE conference in Chandigarh, India, which won the student travel grant award for top student paper submission.

    Amanda has also conducted research in CSU's Department of Mathematics under Dr. Shipman on new techniques in computational topology, using it to study fractal patterns. She presented the results at the 2019 Joint Math Meeting in Baltimore.

    This summer, Amanda will intern at the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines at MIT to study the frequency patterns generated by the visual cortex of macaques.

  • Seamus Somerstep

    Seamus, a Fort Collins native, is a double major in physics and mathematics at Colorado State University. During his time at CSU he has worked with several professors.

    Last summer he worked in a research group under Dr. Rachel Pries that focused on number theory and arithmetic geometry problems. his project culminated in new results on supersingular Hurwitz curves and new data on the zeta functions of Hurwitz curves.

    On the physics side, he has worked at the CSU engineering research center and with Dr. Mark Bradley. In the upcoming summer he will be working with Dr. Renzo Cavalieri on a research project that aims to study the admissible covers of moduli spaces.

    Outside of school, he enjoys video games, ice hockey, and hanging out with friends. His career goals include attending graduate school and becoming a professor at a university.

2019 NSF-GRFP Fellowships

  • Martha Bierut

    Martha is completing her Master of Science degree in Conservation Leadership in the Human Dimensions of Natural Resources department at CSU, where she is studying human-elephant conflict issues in western Uganda.

    She is thrilled to have received the NSF GRFP, with which she will begin a PhD in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. Martha is looking forward to pursuing a PhD and continuing her social science and ecological work in East Africa.

  • Jacqueline Griswold

    Jacqueline was born and raised on a small farm in Fort Collins, CO. She grew up the daughter of a landscaper and has always enjoyed being outdoors. She was homeschooled for junior high and high school by her father, who taught her to persevere and think for herself.

    She went to Front Range Community College for the first half of her education where she fell in love with the natural sciences. Then, she transferred into CSU, where she quickly found my niche in biochemistry. She joined the Markus research lab where she fell in love with research.

    In August, Jacqueline will begin her graduate studies at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as a PhD student in the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology program. She hopes to study the proteins involved in neuronal signaling at the synapse and between neurons and glia. One day, she hopes to have her own research lab studying some unknown biochemical path. She looks forward to seeing where the Lord will take her and her husband after grad school and beyond!

  • Kirsten Mayer

    Kirsten Mayer is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Atmospheric Science working with Dr. Elizabeth Barnes. Her master's thesis focuses on prediction skill provided by the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) and the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation on 2-5 week timescales.

    Kirsten holds a B.S. in Atmospheric Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She was first introduced to atmospheric science research in high school when she attended the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and worked with Dr. Peter Snyder.

    As an undergraduate student, she received the Holstrom Environmental Scholarship, and conducted research in atmospheric synoptic dynamics under Dr. Jonathan Martin. From this research, she wrote an honors thesis on the structure of the shrinking arctic cold pool.

    During her junior year, she received the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship and conducted research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, CO with Drs. George Kiladis and Juliana Dias. There she was introduced to the MJO, and its downstream impacts on midlatitude dynamics, which has continued to be her primary research focus in graduate school. Kirsten plans to defend her Master's in fall 2019 and continue at CSU in the Department of Atmospheric Science for her PhD.

  • Sarah Myers

    Sarah Myers is in her third year of the Cognitive Psychology PhD program at Colorado State. She grew up in the small town of Sabula, Iowa and received B.S. degrees in psychology and animal science from Iowa State University.

    At Iowa State, she worked in Dr. Jason Chan's research lab studying learning and memory in educational settings, including the use of tests as a learning tool.

    Sarah started at CSU in 2017, researching the Science of Learning under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Rhodes. Mainly, Sarah researches how students self-regulate their learning and best study and teaching strategies. She hopes her research will help improve high school and college educational practices and enhance students' long-term learning.

    Sarah has also given talks and taught courses at CSU on the Science of Learning, and she plans to continue discussing Science of Learning practices with the community and other educators.

  • Katie Rocci

    Katie is currently an MS student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (GDPE) co-advised by Dr. M. Francesca Cotrufo and Dr. Steven Fonte. In the fall, she will continue on in GDPE for her PhD with Dr. Cotrufo. Her MS studies have focused on the effect of biochar (a sustainable soil amendment) on nitrogen (N) cycling in agroecosystems.

    Her PhD work will focus on N cycling in unmanaged systems and its coupling to soil carbon stabilization. She looks forward to continuing to work to make science more equitable and accessible for underrepresented groups and to develop and present science outreach for K-12 students.

  • Fionna Samuels

    Fionna was raised in Austin, TX and moved to Colorado in 2008. She earned the B.S. degree in Chemistry from Fort Lewis College where she did undergraduate research with Dr. Kenny Miller synthesizing and characterizing diarylether cyclophanes.

    Here at CSU, Fionna is investigating how cryoprotectants move through and localize in living plant cells with Raman microscopy. After she leaves for the day, Fionna enjoys hiking with her dog, reading with her cat, cooking and, more importantly, eating delicious food.

  • Juli Scamardo

    Raised on the banks of the Brazos River outside of Houston, Texas, Juli's interest in rivers began at a young age. She attended the University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science, where she was exposed to fluvial geomorphology and the geologic study of rivers through undergraduate research.

    Beyond the classroom, she was involved in forming a citizen science group that trained people in whitewater canoeing and water quality in order to assess the health of remote rivers. Canoeing rivers really developed Juli's passion for rivers, the places they run through, and the people that rely on them, while research fueled her curiosity about the science behind them.

    After graduating UT in 2017, Juli packed up and moved to Colorado State where she started my Master's in Fluvial Geomorphology the following fall. Her Master's thesis addresses the potential for and channel response to beaver restoration across Colorado.

    Beaver dams can be effective for restoring degraded streams by storing water, sediment, and excess nutrients in ponds and wetlands. Her research studied the physical potential for reintroducing beavers in watersheds across Colorado as well as the geomorphic and hydrologic effects of beaver dam analogs in places where beaver reintroduction is not viable.

    After defending her Master's in May 2019, she will be staying at CSU to pursue a Ph.D. with funding from the National Science Foundation. She will be researching processes, magnitudes, and implications of sedimentation in ephemeral streams across the American Southwest with her advisor, Ellen Wohl, who was integral to developing and funding my future project.

2019 Rotary Global Grant

  • Rebecca Hermann

    Rebecca is a graduate of both the Environmental Health and Spanish programs at CSU. During her time as an undergraduate student, she had the opportunity to leave the country for the first time to study Spanish language and Chilean culture in Valparaíso, Chile. The following semester, she served as a research assistant on the Honduras Cookstove Project in La Esperanza, Honduras, where she helped gather data on indoor air pollution and cardiovascular health outcomes from cookstove use. There, she learned how to combine her passion for public health with her skills in Spanish and cultural competency.

    Following these experiences, Rebecca was motivated to delve deeper into Latin American culture and pursued a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant in Colombia. During her first year, she lived and taught English in the city of Villavicencio and later moved to the capital of Bogotá upon extending the grant for a second year. The cultural exchange she was immersed in as a Fulbrighter inspired her to pursue further education abroad in her chosen field of public health.

    Rebecca will now use her Rotary Global Grant Scholarship to study a Master of Science degree in Control of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She hopes to supplement her cultural experience in Latin America with a specialization in public health and epidemiology that will allow her to return to the region to investigate topics like mosquito-borne diseases and sexually transmitted infections.

    When she isn't traveling, Rebecca likes to spend family time outdoors in her hometown of Nederland, Colorado, preferably in the snow. She also loves to draw, read, write, and pet as many dogs as possible.

2019 Salam Scholarship

  • Bridgett Neff

    Bridgett is a senior majoring in International Studies and Political Science with a concentration in Middle East and North African studies. On campus, she is a Student Ambassador at INTO CSU and serves as a Peer Mentor in the University Honors Program.

    After graduating from CSU, Bridgett plans on graduate school where she will continue studying Middle Eastern affairs and hopes eventually to work in diplomacy and foreign policy for the State Department where she can use her passion for foreign affairs and the Middle East to bridge the cultural and political divides between the Middle East and the United States.

    Outside of school, I enjoy reading, cooking, traveling, and spending time outdoors.

2019 Udall Scholars

  • Morgan Crump

    Morgan is a Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology major with a minor in Environmental Affairs at Colorado State University and is a member of the University Honors Program. Morgan is driven to bridge the gap between policy and science by conducting research with a clear understanding of natural resource policy in order to enact impactful management plans to protect and converse existing ecosystems.

    On campus, she is a member of the Sound and Light Ecology Team at CSU in collaboration with the National Park Service where she studies both light and noise pollution in national parks as well as urban environments. She has developed a strong passion for the both the study and regulation of anthropogenic pollution and its impacts on ecosystems.

    When she isn't working in the lab, Morgan spends her time enjoying the outdoor activities Fort Collins has to offer!

  • Raven Pinto With Internship

    Raven is a member of the Navajo Nation, born of the Black Streaked Wood People from Twin Lakes, New Mexico. She is a third-year honors student at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Political Science with a double minor in Legal Studies and Environmental Policy.

    She works as a Resident Assistant, a Diversity Senator in student government for the Native American Cultural Center, and a student representative for government public service in Colorado. After graduating, she plans to work in tribal public policy to build environmentally sustainable communities on Native reservations and to advocate for tribal empowerment nationwide.

2019 Udall Honorable Mentions

  • Forrest Czarnecki

    Forrest Czarnecki is currently a junior at Colorado State University studying Journalism and Media Communication with a second field of study in Western American Environmental History. Right now he serves as the Photo Editor of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, and he will serve as the Editor-in-Chief of the publication during the 2019-2020 school year.

    He is the charter President of the Colorado State University Science Communication Club, sponsored through the department of Journalism and Media Communication. Forrest is also a member of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers chapter at CSU and a member of the Ranch Horse Team.

    Outside of class and campus, Forrest is almost always involved with the great outdoors. Some of his favorite activities are horseback riding, camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, and skiing. Growing up in rural Colorado set in stone his deep passion for the outdoors and his choice to be an environmental photojournalist.