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UofSC Brings Total of Hollings Scholars to 50


Five rising juniors at the University of South Carolina have been chosen as 2018 Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholars.  This year’s recipients, Cameron Collins, Calyn Crawford, Leah Moore, Emily Skinner, and Savannah Weber, bring the total number of USC Hollings Scholars to 50 over the 14 years of this national competition, with 25 won in the past four years alone. This makes the University one of the top four Hollings Scholars producers in the nation since the inception of the scholarship in 2005.

Participation in the Hollings Scholarship Program exposes rising juniors and seniors to the mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and to our nation’s long history of oceanic and atmospheric stewardship, reflected in the dedicated career of retired South Carolina Senator Ernest F. Hollings. Hollings Scholars are expected to become scientists, policy-makers, or educators in the future US oceanic and atmospheric workforce. The class of 2018 Hollings Scholars includes 150 students from across the country.

Hollings Scholars study a variety of disciplines including biological, life, and agricultural sciences; physical sciences; mathematics; engineering; computer and information sciences; social and behavioral science; and teacher education. The scholarship provides up to $9,500 of academic assistance per school year for full-time study during the junior and senior years.  A required, 10-week, paid ($700/week) summer internship including travel and living expenses is also included.

Collins is a Capstone Scholar with majors in Marine Science and Chemistry. A recipient of the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship and the USC Alumni Association Legacy Scholarship, he is also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Alpha Lambda Delta, and Sigma Alpha Lambda Honors Society. Cameron currently works in Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson’s lab investigating phosphorus concentrations in various marine environments. He plans to pursue a career in Chemical Oceanography to produce methods of oil cleanup in the ocean.

Crawford is a Capstone Scholar with a major in Marine Science and minor in Chemistry. She is also a recipient of the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, Dean’s Scholars Award, and the USC STEM Supplement. Calyn is Vice President of Carolina Ballroom as well as a member of Students Engaged in Aquatic Sciences (SEAS). She also spent 5 days reworking 4 miles of the Appalachian Trail in summer 2017 as a member of the Konnarock Trail Crew. Crawford was a volunteer research assistant under Darcie Couture at Recourse Access International, LLC, where she studied invasive green crab species and red tide levels along the Maine coastal waters. At USC, she has worked in several labs, including that of Dr. Claudia Benitez-Nelson to observe phosphorus analyses, Dr. Willard Moore to investigate radium levels in seawater by leaching manganese fiber samples, Dr. Alicia Wilson to analyze groundwater temperature data, and Dr. Jerry Hilbish to examine juvenile mussel samples.

Moore is an Environmental Science and Physical Geography double major. A Capstone Scholar, she mentors incoming freshmen in the Capstone program as Co-Director of Training for the Capstone Connectors. Leah is an active member of her church, Midtown Fellowship, as well as her sorority, Pi Beta Phi. She is currently working in the Geography Department on a project in climate analysis, Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA). She intends to pursue a career as a meteorologist or climatologist.

Skinner is a member of the Honors College, where she is a Marine Science major with an emphasis in Biological Oceanography. At USC, she is a member of the Carolina Band and Students Engaged in Aquatic Sciences (SEAS). Emily will be spending the summer in the Ocean Acidification Program at the Mote Marine Laboratory under Dr. Emily Hall, funded by a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates. Skinner aims to pursue an advanced degree in Biological Oceanography to conduct research in marine conservation.

Weber is a Biological Sciences major with a minor in Marine Science. A Capstone Scholar, she is also a recipient of the University of South Carolina Flinn Scholarship Award, the Wave Foundation Scholarship Award, and the Alpha Chi Omega Academic Scholarship. Savannah serves as the Service Chair for the USC chapter of Beta Beta Beta Biological Honors Society as well as the Vice President of Standards for her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. She is also a member of Students Engaged in Aquatic Sciences (SEAS) and Scuba Club. Before coming to USC, Savannah volunteered at the Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, where she participated in the Education Internship working with various marine animals. Inspired by her time at the Newport Aquarium, she now volunteers at both Riverbanks Zoo and the Carolina Wildlife Center. She hopes to pursue veterinary school to study zoological medicine and become a marine animal veterinarian in a rescue and rehabilitation setting.

University of South Carolina Hollings Scholars were assisted by faculty advisors Drs. Claudia Benitez-Nelson in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment, Jean Ellis in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment and Geography, and Gwen Geidel, Undergraduate Director in the School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment in Earth and Ocean Sciences.  Dr. Benitez-Nelson notes, “the Hollings Scholarship is a fabulous opportunity for undergraduate students interested in pursuing marine and atmospheric research and policy.  It is one of the top scholarships in the country for those students interested in addressing a suite of environment issues.  The number of our students who continue to receive this scholarship attests to their outstanding stewardship to our environment.”  

Hollings Scholars were also aided by the University’s Office of Fellowships & Scholar Programs (  Carolina students interested in applying for national fellowships are encouraged to contact the office for assistance.

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