Grad Student Honored for Environmental Science Paper

Posted: June 20, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

Last month at the Virginia Academy of Science’s annual meeting, one of Mason’s own, Katherine Bryant, walked away with the award for Best Student Paper in Environmental Science.

Bryant was one of 194 students representing 35 to 40 colleges and universities throughout Virginia who presented their work at the meeting. The students gave platform and poster presentations on their current research. Awards were based on the originality and scientific merit of research, the quality of the oral presentation and the way in which the presenter answered questions.

Bryant, a grad student of environmental science at Mason, presented on a subspecies of fox squirrel found in western Virginia, Maryland, Indiana and South Carolina. Using tissue samples, Bryant is examining the squirrels’ genetic structure to determine how they came to colonize in this region more than 11,000 years ago.

Katherine Bryant, a graduate student of environmental science, won an award for her paper on a subspecies of fox squirrel.
Photo courtesy of Katherine Bryant

About 540 students attended the annual meeting, and Bryant thoroughly enjoyed it. She says she was surprised at the amount of interest she received during her award-winning presentation.

“Winning an award for my research is a great confidence builder,” Bryant says. “It makes me even more excited about the research we’re doing in the Environmental Science and Policy Department.”

Bryant, who will be defending her thesis this fall, was introduced to the idea of the research project by Cody Edwards, assistant professor of environmental science and policy. For the last year and a half, the two have been conducting research together.

“Katherine’s award is tangible proof that the university is doing quality work and can compete academically on a national level,” says Edwards.

After working with Bryant for nearly two years, Edwards says she has much more to offer and has great potential for success in her chosen field of study.

“She’s definitely a hard worker and able to take what I tell her and formulate her own plan,” Edwards says. “That’s a characteristic we hope to see out of all our students — being able to go out on their own and develop ideas into reality.”

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