MACON – Mercer sophomore Michelle Graham was recently awarded the prestigious Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Graham is the University’s second Hollings Scholar in as many years.
The Hollings Scholarship Program is designed to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research and technology. Each year, it provides 120 undergraduate applicants with academic assistance up to $9,500 per year for two years of full-time study. It also guarantees a 10-week, full-time paid internship at a NOAA facility between the first and second years of the award. The internship provides hands-on, practical experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management and education activities.
Awards also include travel funds to attend a mandatory NOAA Scholarship Program orientation and the annual Science and Education Symposium, scientific conferences where students present their research and a housing subsidy.
“I am delighted that Michelle has been awarded the Hollings Scholarship. Her passion for environmental engineering and sustainable development has been clear since her first semester at Mercer. In addition to being an outstanding student in the classroom, she has enthusiastically advanced research and pursued service opportunities,” said Dr. Michael MacCarthy, assistant professor of environmental and civil engineering and director of the engineering for development program. “The Hollings Scholarship offers Michelle an excellent opportunity to broaden her experience performing environmental engineering laboratory and field research.”
Graham, from Tampa, Florida, is an environmental engineering major with a minor in engineering for development. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in environmental engineering with a focus on sustainable infrastructure and pursue a career promoting sustainable development within global communities.
At Mercer, Graham is involved in low-cost household environmental solutions research with Dr. MacCarthy aimed at investigating efficient building design and energy use and creating more affordable renewable energy options for middle to low-income homeowners. This research has involved the implementation and investigation of a low-cost solar photovoltaic “starter kit” that can be installed on a home by the homeowner, saving thousands of dollars. The research team has begun collaborating with Macon’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity with plans to install a system on a newly built home this fall.
This summer, she will participate in a 10-week National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute, where she will carry out life cycle analysis of cross-laminated timber (CLT) products, modeling impacts of increased CLT demand on forest management, land use and forest carbon, which are all related to life cycle assessment.
Additionally, Graham participated in a Mercer On Mission trip to Peru last summer, where she worked with other engineering students to help build mercury capture systems for use in artisanal small-scale gold mining communities.
“I’m so excited to be appointed as a 2019 Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholar,” said Graham. “I’m looking forward to the opportunities it will bring me in my academic and professional careers, expanding my network and helping me gain valuable experience. This scholarship will help bring me closer to reaching my goal of a career where I can serve both people and the environment.”
Graham is a member of the Engineering Scholars Track of the University Honors Program, the Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Leadership and Success.
Over his long career in state and federal politics, Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina was a champion for ocean policy and conservation. When he retired in 2005, the Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship was established in his honor to bolster undergraduate training in NOAA mission sciences, as well as increase environmental literacy.
About the School of Engineering
Mercer University’s School of Engineering, founded in 1985, offers innovative and academically challenging programs that provide students with a comprehensive education, featuring a solid foundation in mathematics and sciences, a core engineering curriculum, a range of courses in engineering specialties and a strong emphasis on communication technologies. The School is consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top three master’s-degree-level engineering schools in the Southeast. Known for its breadth of instruction in its undergraduate program and its five-year joint bachelor’s and master’s degree program, the School combines technical education with hands-on laboratory experience. Mercer engineers can look forward to joining fellow alumni in companies such as Robins Air Force Base, Lockheed Martin, Georgia Power, Siemens and Gulfstream Aerospace.