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American Today


AU Sophomores Win NOAA Scholarships

By Charles Spencer

Tasia Poinsatte, left, and Autumn Rauchwerk won NOAA's Ernest F. Hollings scholarships.

Tasia Poinsatte, left, and Autumn Rauchwerk won NOAA's Ernest F. Hollings scholarships. (Photo: Jeff Watts)

Two environmental studies majors have won National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scholarships.

The scholarships provide up to $8,000 per year during the students’ junior and senior years as well as a paid 10-week NOAA internship next summer. NOAA will also pay for the students’ transportation costs to attend an orientation and training program in Silver Spring, Maryland, this May.

“It definitely is making me want to get more into scientific research, which I’d been trying to do even before I found out that I got it,” Tasia Poinsatte said of winning the scholarship. “Kind of in response to the application process I got involved in some research with a graduate student here on campus and I’ve been helping with his project.”

That project involves studying the nitrogen content in manatee bones to understand the effects of pollution.

AU’s other scholarship and internship winner, Autumn Rauchwerk, found out she’d won the award while checking her e-mail on April Fools’ Day. “I ran around my room jumping and screaming incoherently for 10 minutes, really confusing my RA,” she said.

“I hope to continue nonprofit work, hopefully with the opportunity to travel and to focus on the educational part of sustainability and environmental literacy,” said Rauchwerk. “If sustainability is second nature to kids there is high hope for our future, and sustainability will transition from an interest or a goal to an integral part of people’s everyday lives. I hope to get a master’s degree in environmental science and possibly nonprofit management because a somewhat random dream of mine is to open a nonprofit, fair trade, vegan, educational coffee shop.”

Poinsatte, who is also an international relations major, had an internship this year with an NGO whose mission is to help people in the developing world start their own businesses. At TechnoServe, she worked on the organization’s communications team, honing skills that will help her make science more accessible to the public, she wrote in her NOAA application.

“I was thrilled to hear that both Tasia and Autumn were winners of the scholarship,” said Kiho Kim, chair of the environmental science program in AU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “I think this speaks volumes about the quality of our students and the support that they get from the faculty. I hope we can make a habit of this.”

NOAA’s Ernest F. Hollings scholarships are meant in part to boost undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science and research. They’re also intended to recruit and prepare students for public service careers with NOAA and other natural resource and science agencies.