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Three UGA students named Hollings Scholars

Katie Cowart

Three University of Georgia students have been awarded the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Hollings Scholarship Program is designed to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric sciences. The scholarship provides two years of financial support, a 10-week, full-time paid summer internship to any NOAA facility nationwide, and support to participate in two national scientific conferences.

The Hollings Scholarship is named for Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina, a champion for ocean policy and conservation. Before retiring in 2005, Senator Hollings authored the Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act and the Oceans and Human Health Act, and also increased the national focus and priority of ocean and coastal conservation and research.

Kathryn Boyle, Chase Fiveash, and Killian McSweeney are all undergraduates in the geography department’s Atmospheric Sciences Program. 2021 saw the most Hollings winners the program has had in one year, and it ties the largest number of winners from all UGA departments back in 2017. 

“Our students are gaining national recognition for their successes, and our program is rising to the level of the 'big dawgs' in our field," said John Knox, a professor in the geography department and undergraduate coordinator for the program. "The University of Washington and the University of Illinois also had three winners, and the University of Oklahoma had two."

Boyle is currently interning at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York where she is researching the interaction of Lake Effect snow bands with fronts under Nick Metz, an associate professor of geoscience.  

“I did not realize the true breadth of internships NOAA offered until the orientation,” said Boyle. “I have not decided where I would like to go, but I look forward to talking with potential mentors to decide. This is an amazing opportunity.”

Fiveash wants to use this opportunity to conduct research on either tropical or mesoscale meteorology. 

“However, the internships offered by NOAA are diverse, and there could be something I end up doing that I haven’t even considered yet,” said Fiveash. “I am beyond honored to be awarded the Hollings Scholarship.”

McSweeney has been conducting research at UGA with Gabriel Kooperman, an assistant professor in the geography department, using global climate models to simulate how permafrost in the Arctic is changing. He has also worked with Jennifer Collins, a professor of geoscience at the University of South Florida, analyzing how perceptions of risk to COVID-19 are impacting people’s hurricane evacuation decisions. 

“It is always exciting to work with people who have similar interests and goals,” said McSweeney. “I am still surprised about getting the scholarship, but I hope to use this opportunity to get more field work experience.”

In the coming month, NOAA will provide the students with a database of over 100 internship opportunities across the United States. All three students are hoping to travel for their internship. 

“I am hoping for an internship outside of the lower 48 states,” said Fiveash. “I have lived in Georgia my entire life and want to expand my horizons.”

The Hollings undergraduate scholars will complete their all-expenses-paid internships during the summer of 2022. 

 "The Hollings Scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship within our discipline," said Knox "It's a springboard to future success in graduate school or the workplace for its recipients. The Geography Department's nurturing of this major is paying big dividends for our students."


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