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Drexel's 2018 Udall Scholars

April 18, 2018

Congratulations to Drexel's 2018 Udall Scholars –  Sophia Courtney and Annette Kang!

We are delighted to announce that two Drexel students have received the prestigious 2018 Udall Scholarship in recognition of their leadership, public service and commitment to issues related to the environment.


Sophia (Sofi) Courtney (BS Environmental Science ’20, Honors)
Drexel faculty mentor: Elizabeth Burke Watson

Sofi Courtney came to Drexel University in 2016 after a career as a bicycle mechanic and horticulturist. As a member of the West Philadelphia community, Sofi has been a leader in many community garden and land maintenance projects. At Drexel she is studying environmental science with a concentration on ecology and conservation and hopes to use her education to promote the conservation of wild places through research and public engagement. Her research interest is focused on plant animal interactions in wetlands, particularly in swamps and bogs. Sofi's first co-op was with the wetlands section of Academy of Natural Sciences, where she still works today. This upcoming co-op she will be performing vegetation surveys in the panda reserves of Sichuan Province, China.

Annette Kang (BS Biological Sciences '19)
Drexel faculty mentors: Sean O’Donnell, Susan Gurney, Meghan Barrett

Annette first got involved with research as a freshman in the SEA-PHAGES course working with isolating bacteriophages and annotating their genomes. Since then, she has focused her research interests in the field of entomology through lab and field research with ants. She shares her passions for research with other undergraduates as a member of the Undergraduate Research Leaders. She has participated in various experiential learning opportunities, including sustainability and conservation studies abroad in Costa Rica and Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea. She will be participating in the DAAD RISE Germany program this Spring and Summer term where she will be studying diet preferences in ant-parasite communities at Technische Universität Darmstadt. Her career interests include becoming an Entomology researcher and science educator studying human and agricultural development and their impacts on insect biodiversity. She hopes to closely study these dynamics and explore alternative agricultural practices that are less destructive to the environment but also viable and sustainable for communities dependent on their agriculture.


The Udall Scholarship recognizes top U.S. current sophomores and juniors, who are selected on the basis of academic achievement, leadership, public service, and commitment to issues related to the environment or tribal policy and healthcare.

As 2018 Udall Scholars, Sofi and Annette are among just 50 students from 42 colleges and universities selected nationwide from 437 candidates nominated by 209 colleges and universities. Thirty-four scholars intend to pursue careers related to the environment and sixteen Native American/Alaska Native Scholars intend to pursue careers related to Tribal public policy or Native health care. Udall Scholars receive an educational scholarship of up to $7000, participate in a four-day Scholar Orientation, and become a member of the Udall Alumni Network of environmental and tribal leaders and public servants sharing innovative ideas, professional advice, and job and internship opportunities.

Huge congratulations to Sofi and Annette!


Special thanks to the members of Drexel’s 2018 Udall Campus Committee, who worked with the Center for Scholar Development during the winter term to review applications, conduct interviews, and advise nominees on their applications:

  • Julia Novak Colwell, Visiting Fellow for the Great Works Symposium, Pennoni Honors College
  • Peter DeCarlo, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
  • Stefanie Kroll, Watershed Ecology Section Lead, Center for Environmental Policy, Academy of Natural Sciences
  • Chris Sales, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


For more information, please visit our Udall Scholarship page or email Drexel Fellowships.