“When am I ever going to use this in real life?” That is the oft-heard refrain from middle- and high-school science students, struggling through labs and formulas that feel as far removed from their day-to-day as, well, space travel. Sarthak…
Anna Feldman Named Recipient of NOAA-Hollings Scholarship
When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City in October 2012, Anna Feldman’s community was battered by flooding and the breakdown of utilities, transit systems and wastewater treatment plants.
A few months later, as an eighth-grade student, she participated in a Future City competition. Her team built a model city that included porous pavement and green roofs to help address the challenge of stormwater runoff. The project sent Feldman and her team to Future City’s national competition and stoked Feldman’s interest in water research, conservation and management. “I knew that I wanted a future helping mitigate the effects of climate change and bolstering the health of our natural watersheds,” she says.
A sophomore environmental engineering major in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, Feldman learned recently that she is a recipient of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, which will help support her studies.
Named for Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina, the prestigious award provides up to $9,500 per year for two years of full-time study for students majoring in fields of study related to NOAA’s mission to understand and conserve climate, weather, oceans, ecosystems and coasts. Designed to increase understanding and stewardship for the oceans and atmosphere, the award includes paid summer internship placements at a NOAA or partner facility, and offers recipients the opportunity to attend and present at conferences, including the Science & Education Symposium.
Feldman plans to pursue a career researching the impacts of contaminant influx from large polluters, such as waste treatment plants, industrial waste, oil spills, and agricultural and stormwater runoff, and to develop solutions that promote water and marine ecosystem health.
Last summer, she worked at Syracuse’s Museum of Science and Technology as a science educator for a free summer science program for teens, focused entirely on Onondaga Lake and its watershed. As part of an eight-counselor team, Feldman helped build a science program from the ground up. She specialized in water chemistry and spent six weeks going on site visits throughout the watershed, testing equipment, collecting samples and data and writing lesson plans. The team helped educate more than 80 eighth-graders from the Syracuse City School District about everything from tracking agricultural runoff and eutrophication, to using advanced lab probes to measure dissolved oxygen levels. “I realized that spreading knowledge and concern about water health and remediation to people—especially children—is at the core of my purpose in becoming a scientist and researcher,” she says.
At Syracuse, Feldman is a member of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a professional sorority of female engineering and science students, and is an engineering ambassador, promoting scientific and engineering literacy in Syracuse public schools.
In the fall, Feldman will participate in a project under the guidance of Teng Zeng, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. She will research harmful algal blooms, which have become a growing public health concern in New York. “For my project, I will characterize the composition of organic materials released by cyanobacterial cultures using high-resolution mass spectrometry,” she says. “By conducting sunlight photolysis tests, I will evaluate the transformation of algal toxins and quantify the formation of harmful byproducts from algae-derived organic materials under typical drinking water treatment conditions.” The project is funded by an Undergraduate Research and Creative Works grant from the University.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, Feldman plans to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in environmental engineering. “Being a Hollings Scholar will introduce me to public-sector engineering, and of course to NOAA, where I hope to work one day. The orientation, mentorship and internship opportunities are particularly appealing to me, since I am eager to gain multidisciplinary training and hands-on experience in the field,” she says. “My goal is to serve as an environmental steward to increase public understanding through research presentations and implementations, community outreach and as a mentor to future students and young people. The NOAA Hollings Scholarship will prepare me to meet my goals as an aqueous pollutant researcher and as a leader in environmental work.”
Feldman worked with the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA) to secure the NOAA scholarship. CFSA offers candidates advising and assistance with applications and interview preparation for nationally competitive scholarships.
“Anna’s carefully thought-through goals to make a difference in water conservation and water quality management made her a clear fit for the NOAA-Hollings scholarship,” says Jolynn Parker, director of CFSA. “I know she will benefit tremendously from their support, and from the extraordinary internship opportunities they provide. I couldn’t be more delighted that she’s being recognized in this way.”
The 2020 NOAA-Hollings Scholarship application will open on Sept. 1. Interested students should contact CFSA for more information: 315.443.2759; firstname.lastname@example.org.