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Scholarships in Earth and Planetary Sciences

Following the tradition of Prof. Larry Taylor, the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium at UTK awards scholarships to students with outstanding records in the areas of outreach, teaching, and Earth and Planetary Sciences research.  This year, 10 awards were handed out at the weekly PGI Brown Bag lunch.

Students hold their Certificates of Merit in honor of their efforts in teaching, outreach, and research.

Students in the Earth and Planetary Sciences earn scholarships for their excellence in outreach, teaching, and research. From left, Cole Nypaver, Audrey Martin, Jessica Ende, Lauren McGraw, and Megan Mouser.

Jessi Ende (Ph.D. student):  Jessi is hardworking and dedicated towards many research and outreach activities.  In research, Jessi brings together much from the earth sciences and planetary science, and intends to publish papers in both disciplines.  Jessi is an experienced field scientist and has mentored undergraduate Tricia Burtt in field and lab research.  In these ways, Jessi is a great representation of how high-quality research can come from interdisciplinary science.  In outreach, Jessi regularly volunteers at the McClung Museum and has delivered planetary science programs to more than 500 students in the Knoxville area.  Jessi also serves on the GeoClub executive board, helping to organize events that serve the EPS community.


Audrey Martin (Ph.D. student):  Audrey’s outreach record is impressive.  Audrey coordinates volunteers for the geology exhibit at the McClung Museum, participates in programs such as “Letters to a Future Scientist,” “Skype a Scientist”, and TN Achieves, though which she mentors high school students on their way to being first-generation college students.  Audrey has helped plan and deliver university programs such as Darwin Day, Can you Dig it?, and the 2018 Division of Planetary Sciences meeting.  She has also given invited research talks, most recently at the Southwestern Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

Lauren McGraw (Ph.D. student):  Lauren’s research and outreach accomplishments are many.  Lauren has given talks at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting and at the Nashville Astronomical Society.  Lauren also mentors an undergraduate in research and has been awarded time to conduct research at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility.  Lauren’s outreach includes participating in “Letters to a Future Scientist,” and volunteering at the McClung Museum and the Tennessee Science Bowl.

Megan Mouser (M.S. student):  Megan’s work ethic and collegiality are well known among fellow students.  Megan is dedicated to her work with high temperature and pressure experiments at Argonne National Lab and goes above and beyond for her students as the GTA for the department’s petrology course.  Megan’s peers say that Megan is, “a wonderful person to have in the department, and is always friendly and willing to provide an ear when you need someone to listen.”

Cole Nypaver (M.S. student):  In many ways, Cole strives to make UTK and EPS better places for everyone.  Cole has volunteered at the McClung Museum, at Can You Dig it? and at Darwin Day.  Cole also serves as the PGI brown bag leader and the events coordinator for the GeoClub, which hosts the departmental Spaghetti Supper and 5k Run.  Cole’s research achievements are also evident to his colleagues.  Cole has been named a student member of the MINI-RF instrument team, part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission.

Michael Phillips (Ph.D. student):  Michael’s outreach and research accomplishments are diverse.  Michael leads remote sensing efforts of analog environments in the Atacama Desert as part of a research project with NASA’s National Astrobiology Institute.  Michael’s other research activities include thermal modeling of Mercury’s surface and mapping of Mars.  Michael’s work spans a wide range of research topics that help advance terrestrial and planetary geology.  Michael is also a regular volunteer at the McClung Museum, Can You Dig it? and Darwin Day.  Michael has been a guest speaker at local elementary schools and represents the department on the Graduate Student Senate.

Sarah Roberts (Ph.D. student):  Sarah is hardworking and dedicated to excellence in research and teaching. Sarah is currently teaching physical geology and will continue teaching this summer.  Sarah has given research presentations at the Goldschmidt Conference and the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.  Sarah has recently published research on basalts from Apollo 14.  This work was published in a special issue dedicated to Larry Taylor in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

Tricia Burtt (Undergraduate student):  Tricia Burtt is an outstanding undergraduate student majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Business.  Tricia is an alumnus of the TSGC undergraduate summer research program.  Tricia has been eager and quick to learn new laboratory skills.  Tricia has helped doctoral student Jessica Ende with field work in Lassen Volcanic Park, California.  This work focused on analyzing sulfate formation on Earth as a possible analog to sulfate formation on Mars.  The work will result in a published paper with Tricia as a co-author.

Nat Cagle (Undergraduate student):  Nat is an accomplished undergraduate researcher.  Nat has worked with Prof. Jeff Moersch, Dr. Chris Tate, and graduate students Cameron McCarty and Michael Phillips.  Nat’s work includes identifying grain size distributions in images from the Mars Exploration Rovers, analyzing images of the dunes to detect temporal changes, and analyzing thermal inertia in the Atacama Desert.  In these projects, Nat has shown ingenuity in his ability to solve problems and has presented his research at the UTK undergraduate research symposium.  Nat’s colleagues see him as a bright student with a bright future in planetary science.

Allen Prince (Undergraduate student):  Allen is a hardworking undergraduate, majoring in Geology.  Allen has gained diverse research experience in the EPS and in the Department of Geography.  Allen’s research experience includes planetary geomorphologic mapping of Mars.  Other notable accomplishments include through hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  During this hike, Allen gathered GPS data of campsites and has constructed a map of their distribution along the 2,653-mile trail.  This data set represents an invaluable resource to the many parks along the PCT and to those who seek to preserve it.