2021 Student Awards in Earth, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences
Austin Deering graduated from Jefferson County High School in 2010. After the birth of his daughter, he enrolled in college and, in 2019, graduated WKU with a bachelor’s degree in Geography/Environment and Sustainability. Austin then completed his Master’s in Geoscience through the JUMP program. His passion for the environment led him to focus his thesis on groundwater resources and he is pursuing a Ph. D. at the University of Kentucky. Austin enjoys the outdoors with his family or watching sporting events. His future includes publishing his thesis and working in a field where he can continue learning about our environment.
Ellen Danford is a senior double-majoring in Environmental Science and Spanish with a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). She is a Mahurin Honors College Scholar and Peer Mentor. For her Honors thesis, she used GIS to record and analyze spatial information about the WKU urban forest to determine the effectiveness of forest protection on campus. She also created a tree inventory with QGIS during an internship with the Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College. After graduation, Ms. Danford plans to pursue a master’s degree in Environmental Science with the hopes of working with sustainable initiatives in Latin America.
While at WKU, Amanda has studied Sociology, Geography & Environmental Studies, and Citizenship & Social Justice. She has been involved with the Potter College Dean’s Council of Students, HonorsToppers, the Center for Citizenship & Social Justice, study abroad, and the Potter College Dean’s office. Amanda’s senior thesis explored the relationship between self-governance and success in community gardens in Louisville, Kentucky. After graduation, she will be joining the Geography MA-MPA dual program at Syracuse University, where she will continue her education in community-based and qualitative methods, GIS, housing, and urban development.
Courtney McDavid earned a 3.77 GPA as an extended professional B.S. major in Geology, and was accepted to the Cal State-Monterey Bay REU program in their 2020 cohort. She completed the Mojave Field Geology course and research projects investigating the Independence Dike Swarm, and correlating clay mineralogy to soil moisture content. As VP of the Geology Club she scheduled talks and events, including cave clean-ups, picnics, overnights, Rock and Mineral Sales. She tutored for the Kelly Autism Program and as undergraduate TA for Mineralogy and the Intro Lab course. She will be attending Boise State University with a full Assistantship.
Sylvia is a double major with Meteorology and Geography/Environmental Studies with a concentration in Environment and Sustainability. She has served as the lead forecaster for White Squirrel Weather, the campus weather service, for the past 1.5 years. She has worked on several research projects with WKU Meteorology faculty and the Kentucky Mesonet. She attended the Remote Sensing and Land Atmosphere Systems REU at the University of Alabama-Huntsville in 2019. She also attended the Undergraduate Leadership Workshop at UCAR/NCAR in the summer of 2020. Sylvia also served as the Vice President of the WKU chapter of the American Meteorological Society/National Weather Association. After graduation, Sylvia plans to attend graduate school studying mitigation strategies and risk analysis for vulnerable populations experiencing extreme weather hazards.