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Marquis Scholar Kate Buettner ’07 (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), a chemistry major, is among 16 students in the nation to receive one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greater Research Opportunities Undergraduate Student Fellowships.

The award includes up to $41,500 for each student over the life of the prestigious two-year fellowship, covering tuition and fees, a monthly stipend during the school year, research expenses, and a 12-week summer internship at an EPA laboratory between the junior and senior years.

Buettner is the latest in a list of recent Lafayette recipients of prestigious national and international scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and post-graduate study. For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, assistant dean of studies, at (610) 330-5521. See also the latest edition of Aristeia, which showcases the achievements and reflections of some of the outstanding current and recent Lafayette students who represent the growing number of students at the College pursuing both academic excellence and engagement with civic life and social justice.

The EPA fellowships support students in environmentally related fields of study. Since last fall, Buettner has been conducting EXCEL Scholars research related to water pollution with Steven Mylon, assistant professor of chemistry.

She began with a project that will lead to a better understanding of trace metal chemistry in aquatic systems. The pair conducted experiments to measure the specific complexes that trace metals form in the systems. The work has direct environmental applications as trace metals are known to be toxic in high concentrations but are required as nutrients in low concentrations.

Buettner coauthored a paper with Mylon that he presented in March at the 229th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting. He expects Buettner to publish a scientific journal article and possibly give a conference presentation based on an offshoot of the research project that she is tackling with Mylon this summer and fall.

“Kate has come a long way over the past year,” he says. “She spent a great deal of time working out a method for studying copper complexation in natural systems, and now she is trying to study copper sulfide clusters. In developing the method she was able to use samples sent by a collaborator of mine at Yale. Our method confirmed the results that the folks at Yale measured using a different system.”

In Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

Buettner says the EXCEL work combines environmental study with her love of chemistry.

“My research is an opportunity to apply the fundamentals learned in my chemistry courses to real situations,” she explains. “This has served me in a few important ways: It helps to solidify my understanding of the topics and principles covered in many of my chemistry classes; I am getting exposure to laboratory techniques that help in courses like analytical and organic chemistry; and as a form of discovery-based learning, the breadth of my education in chemistry is growing.”

Buettner is president of the student chapter of the American Chemistry Society and has served the group as treasurer. Her other activities this past school year included volunteering at the Third Street Alliance in Easton, a shelter for women and children, and for Kids in the Community, a Lafayette after-school program for children.

Chosen from among Lafayette’s most promising applicants, Marquis Scholars like Buettner receive special financial aid and distinctive educational experiences and benefits, including a three-week, Lafayette-funded study-abroad course during January’s interim session between semesters. Marquis Scholars also participate in cultural activities in major cities and on campus, and mentoring programs with Lafayette faculty.

Mylon, who joined the Lafayette faculty last fall, also mentored biochemistry major Steven Prescuitti ’05 (Wilkes Barre, Pa.) in research that the student presented in April at the 19th annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

The professor serves as an adviser to Lafayette’s Society of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (SEES), a student group that conducts interdisciplinary collaborative research on environmental issues. The group won a research competition hosted May 3-5 by the PA-American Water Works Association in Valley Forge, Pa., and finished second in the 2005 WERC International Environmental Engineering Design Contest held April 3-7 at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M.

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

Categorized in: Academic News