August 4, 2006

Kristen Tull ’06 Receives STAR Graduate Fellowship from EPA

Award will help her pursue an M.A. in environmental management at Duke University

During her time at Lafayette, she has participated in EXCEL research, study abroad, and honor thesis research. She has published in scholarly journals, presented at national conferences, and was also a member of numerous campus organizations.

As a result of her dedication and commitment, she has earned a Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which she will use to pursue an M.A. in environmental management at Duke University.

Tull, who graduated in May with an A.B. with majors in engineering and international affairs, went through a competitive application process with only a little more than 100 fellowships being given out nationally each year. As part of the fellowship, she must conduct environmentally related research throughout her time at graduate school and attend an annual EPA conference.

“I am really excited I was awarded this fellowship because it is such an honor and will really help me achieve my goal to help protect the environment in some way,” says Tull. “I am really passionate about environmental issues and very motivated to help make a difference. But, pursuing my goals might have been more difficult if I had to bear the financial burden of graduate school. It is funding opportunities like this one that can make the difference between obtaining a graduate education and not being able to afford one.”

Tull credits Lafayette’s dedication to undergraduate research and its many supportive professors as main factors in getting the fellowship.

“Undoubtedly Lafayette has helped to prepare me for graduate school,” she says. “The many research opportunities that I took advantage of, the close relationships I had with professors, the academic challenges, and my majors were most influential in preparing me for graduate school.”

Tull was involved in numerous projects with Sharon Jones, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Arthur Kney, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. She collaborated with them on developing a cost-effective method of removing arsenic from drinking water and researched water quality in Uganda focusing on wetlands surrounding Lake Victoria while working at Makerere University in Kampala.

She conducted research on a treatment method meant to decrease the concentration of perchlorate in water and coauthored Perchlorate Treatment For Domestic Water Systems with Kney and David A. Veshosky, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and chair of A.B. engineering. She continued her research on water quality after receiving a previous EPA award, the National Network for Environmental Management Studies Fellowship, for her graduate-level research on storm water policies.

Jones was also Tull’s advisor for her honors thesis, which focused on how wooden shipping pallets impact the environment compared to their plastic counterparts.

“Professor Jones was a mentor to me throughout my Lafayette education,” says Tull. “She has served as a role model to me and has had the greatest influence in my life over the past three years and I owe her my thanks. She was always providing me the support and encouragement to challenge myself and set my standards high. Because of her encouragement, I was awarded both the NNEMS EPA fellowship and now the STAR fellowship.”

Jones was as equally impressed with Tull.

“I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with Kristen,” she says. “She has great initiative and motivation and was an invaluable research assistant. The main factor [in her success] is her ability to take advantage of every opportunity available to her.”

Tull presented her research at numerous venues including the seventeenth annual Omicron Delta Epsilon undergraduate economics and business conference at Ursinus College, the American Water Works Association’s 124th annual national conference in San Francisco, and both the 18th and 20th annual national conferences on undergraduate research.

After Duke, Tull plans to continue working towards protecting and restoring the environment, though she is not sure if she will pursue a career in the public or private sector.

“Although there are countless environmental problems that need immediate attention, I believe one of the most pressing is global climate change,” she says. “Therefore, I hope to somehow channel my energy into working toward solving the problem of global warming.”

Tull spent a semester at International University Bremen in Germany through a study abroad program led by Rado Pribic, Edwin Williams Professor of Languages and chair of the international affairs and Russian and Eastern European studies programs. She is the founder of Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists and has served as president of International Affairs Club and Leonardo Society and competed on the club soccer team. She is a member of the Sigma X international honor society for scientific and engineering research, was also a member of Lafayette’s McKelvy Scholars intellectual community, and worked as a tour guide for the admissions office.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty students were accepted to present their research at this year’s conference.

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