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Bees Students Named Drexel's First Hollings Scholars

April 14, 2016

Nicholas Barber, BS geoscience '18, honors, and Vincent O'Leary, BS environmental science and BS geoscience '18, honors, are the first students at Drexel University to receive the Earnest F. Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A total 125 students from across the United States receive this award, which recognizes the nation’s top undergraduates interested in pursuing research, public service or teaching careers in the oceanic and atmospheric sciences. Barber also received the 2016 Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes the nation’s top undergraduates planning to pursue research, careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

Drexel BEES Student Nicolas Barber

Barber began his undergraduate research experience in the Drexel Paleontology Lab, first as a volunteer and continuing as a 2014 STAR student researcher. Under the guidance of Ken Lacovara, PhD, and PhD candidate Anna Jaworski, Barber studied the relationship between grain size parameters and sediment transfer dynamics along barrier islands in the Delaware Bay. This experience was transformative for Barber, who then pursued a research co-op working with Jerry Mead, PhD, at the Academy of Natural Sciences on a project to build a model of freshwater stream energetics. Barber is currently conducting research with Loÿc Vanderkluysen, PhD, on the chemical evolution of the Deccan Trapps large igneous province in Western India. Barber plans to pursue a PhD in geochemistry, focusing his research on trace element geochemistry. He hopes to study the evolution and origin of plate tectonics on Earth, with a focus on fieldwork in Southeast Asia.

Drexel BEES Student Vincent O'Leary

O'Leary is passionate about the intersection of the environment and society, as well as freshwater ecology and conservation. At Drexel, O'Leary has worked with Jerry Mead, PhD, at the Academy of Natural Sciences on a project using geographic information systems (GIS) and data analysis to map land snail biodiversity across Jamaica, with the goal of informing policies on sustainable development and agriculture. He has also conducted research with Mead on a project that uses satellite imagery to model stream ecosystems throughout the Delaware River. O’Leary is currently working as a curatorial assistant to Ted Deaschler, PhD, in the Department of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

As a Hollings Scholar, O’Leary hopes to work with NOAA teams on using predictive modeling to understand and communicate changes in our ocean and climate systems. After Drexel, he plans to pursue a PhD in environmental science. He hopes to become an active university researcher and educator, which will allow him to share discoveries and passions with the wider public while educating the next generation of environmental scientists.

About the Goldwater Scholarship

The Goldwater Scholarship was established by Congress in 1986, with the goal of recognizing the nation's top undergraduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. Applicants are evaluated on the basis of outstanding academic performance and demonstrated potential for and commitment to a successful research career in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering.

For more information on this award, visit the Drexel Fellowships Office Goldwater Scholars page or contact Meredith Wooten, PhD, director of the Fellowships Office.

About the Hollings Scholarship

The NOAA Hollings Scholarship is awarded annually to students seeking careers in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology and education, in honor of long-time South Carolina Senator Ernest F. Hollings. Hollings served in Congress for 36 years, where he was instrumental in the creation of NOAA and was an advocate in creating legislation designed to protect the world’s oceans.

Hollings Scholars receive academic assistance for full-time study, as well as hands-on, practical educational training experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities. Awards also include travel funds to attend a mandatory NOAA Scholarship Program orientation, conferences where students present a paper or poster, and a housing subsidy for scholars who do not reside at home during the summer internship.

For more information on this award, visit the Drexel Fellowships Office Hollings Scholarship page or contact Meredith Wooten, PhD, director of the Fellowships Office.