SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Lara Rath, Wittenberg class of 2008 from Mount Pleasant, Pa., has made a mark in her field of study as one of a select few students nationwide to receive a prestigious Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Scholarship.
Established just two years ago, the scholarship offers students more than just financial assistance for their education. NOAA supports undergraduate training in fields of oceanic and atmospheric science, research and technology, and the organization works to increase public understanding of environmental issues. The financial support is offered during junior and senior years of undergraduate study, providing a paid 10-week internship during the summer between these years.
While the NOAA program is fairly new, there is a great deal of competition for the 100 scholarships awarded each year, and it has quickly become one of the most prestigious and sought-after scholarships in the sciences. Less than 25 of the scholarship recipients in 2006-07 came from biological science backgrounds, Rath's field of study.
"I feel blessed and am very honored to have received this award. I think it speaks well of Wittenberg's science departments, as well as our marine science program," said Rath, a biology major and marine science minor. "To be recognized alongside students of more big-name schools such as University of North Carolina, Stanford and Harvard is a mark of distinction for Wittenberg."
Lara Rath on a dive
Rath is currently studying at the Duke Marine Laboratory, where the NOAA Scholarship afforded her the opportunity to take field courses in Singapore and Trinidad, as well as additional opportunities to network with NOAA officials.
Being a member of the second class of NOAA scholarship recipients has enabled Rath to further her childhood dreams. She has always had an interest in science and oceans.
"Throughout my secondary and undergraduate education, I realized I was more inclined toward biological research," she said. "This program has provided me the financial means to support this interest, and the experience I gain through the internship will aid in my pursuit of these goals."
This summer, Rath will be working with David Meyer of the National Ocean Services Center for Coastal Habitat Research at Pivers Island, Beaufort, N.C. Most likely, she will be doing a "comparative study of algal assemblages in channel and bank habitats in the Florida Keys." At the end of the internship, Rath and the other scholarship recipients will travel to NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., to report their research findings at a weeklong conference.
Written By: Erica Strauss '08