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USC Continues To Produce Hollings Scholars

Three rising juniors at the University of South Carolina have been chosen as 2017 Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholars. This year's recipients, Alexis Bantle, Casey Brayton, and Patrick McKenzie, bring the total number of USC Hollings Scholars to 45 over the 13years of this national competition, with 20 won in the past three years alone. This makes the University one of the top four Hollings Scholars producers in the nation since the inception of the scholarship in 2005.

Participation in the Hollings Scholarship Program exposes rising juniors and seniors to the mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and to our nation's long history of oceanic and atmospheric stewardship, reflected in the dedicated career of retired South Carolina Senator Ernest F. Hollings. Hollings Scholars are expected to become scientists, policy-makers, or educators in the future US oceanic and atmospheric workforce. The class of 2017 Hollings Scholars includes 110 students from across the country.

Hollings Scholars study a variety of disciplines including biological, life, and agricultural sciences; physical sciences; mathematics; engineering; computer and information sciences; social and behavioral science; and teacher education. The scholarship provides up to $9,500 of academic assistance per school year for full-time study during the junior and senior years. A required, 10-week, paid ($700/week) summer internship including travel and living expenses is also included.

Bantle is a member of the South Carolina Honors College, with a Biology major and a Chemistry minor. At the University, she holds the Cooper Scholarship. As a student in Dr. Beth Krizek's lab conducting research on plant genetics, Bantle plans to pursue a career in science research. She will be spending this summer in Germany doing research with a DAAD RISE scholarship.

Brayton is a member of the South Carolina Honors College, where she is a Carolina Scholar holding the Solomon Blatt Scholarship. Additionally, she is the recipient of the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, Lieber Scholarship, Traci J. Heincelman Scholarship, and the Millennium Oceans Award. She was also recently named a 2017 Udall Scholar. Majoring in Marine Science & Geophysics, Brayton has a minor in Geography and plans to make her career in the area of climate modeling. She conducts physical oceanography research with marine scientists Dr. Alexander Yankovsky and Dr. Ryan Rykaczewski .This past summer, Brayton was a media relations intern with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and a GIS volunteer technician with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. This summer, Brayton will complete a Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography studying the Weddell Polynya with SOCCOM (Southern Ocean Climate Cycle Observation and Modeling) with Dr. Lynne Talley and Dr. Sarah Gille. On campus, Brayton is co-chair of the Marine Technology Society, as well as founder and president of Women in Geosciences. She is a member of Students Engaged in Aquatic Sciences (SEAS), and the Geography Club. Her service work includes Conservation Voters of SC, and Resurrections, a non-profit feeding the hungry (St. Mary's Episcopal Church).

McKenzie is a member of the South Carolina Honors College, majoring in Biology and Geography with a minor in Spanish. A Stamps Carolina Scholar, he is also the recipient of the Lieber Scholarship. He conducts ecology and evolution research under Dr. Dudycha, and serves as the Risk Manager for the USC Mountaineering and Whitewater Club. Last summer he was a microbiologist intern for the Ritedose Corporation, while this summer he will be doing an REU at Colby College on the Cultural, Economic, and Ecological Roles of Church Forests in Ethiopia. McKenzie plans a career in wildlife biology research.

University of South Carolina Hollings Scholars were assisted by faculty advisors Drs. Claudia Benitez-Nelson in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, Jean Ellis in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment and Geography, and Gwen Geidel, Undergraduate Director in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment in Earth and Ocean Sciences. Dr. Benitez-Nelson notes, "the Hollings Scholarship is a fabulous opportunity for undergraduate students interested in pursuing marine and atmospheric research and policy. It is one of the top scholarships in the country for those students interested in addressing a suite of environment issues. The large numbers of our students who continue to receive this scholarship attests to their outstanding stewardship to our environment."

Hollings Scholars were also aided by the university's Office of Fellowships & Scholar Programs. Students interested in applying for national fellowships are encouraged to contact us for assistance.

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