Professor David Sunderlin and Alexandria Brannick '12 near Exit Glacier in Alaska.
The Lafayette College Maroon Club named Alexandra Brannick ’12 (Point Pleasant, N.J.) and Michael Thompson ’12 (Shokan, N.Y.) the 2011-12 Maroon Club Scholar-Athletes. The awards are presented annually to one male and one female student who display exemplary skills in the classroom and on the field of competition.
A geology major and co-captain of the Leopards swimming and diving team, Brannick has been a record-setting performer and an exemplary scholar.
As an aspiring paleontologist, she studied 55 million-year-old leaf fossils in Alaska with David Sunderlin, assistant professor of geology and environmental geosciences. The project’s goal is to learn more about pre-historic temperatures and precipitation levels by exploring ancient plant and insect interaction. Brannick also worked with Kira Lawrence, assistant professor of geology and environmental geosciences, studying sediment from the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to learn more about the climatic conditions of the planet over the past five million years.
Last summer, she was part of the course Geology from A (Arches) to Z (Zion): The Geology of National Parks in the Western United States. Taught by Larry Malinconico, associate professor of geology and environmental geosciences, and Sunderlin, the class explored the “living geologic laboratory” known as the Colorado Plateau stretching across northern Arizona and southern Utah.
Brannick has been named a College Swimming Coaches Athletic Association Academic All-American and member of the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in every semester in which she was eligible. Athletically, she holds Lafayette records in the 100-meter backstroke (57.08 seconds) and the 200-meter medley relay (1:47.60). She also ranks second in Leopards history in the 200-meter backstroke (2:06.99). Brannick was selected as the team’s most valuable swimmer in 2011 and has been the program’s most valuable performer by class year in all three of her seasons in the pool.
Since arriving on College Hill in 2008, Brannick has been a volunteer coach for the Warren ARC program, mentoring local swimmers with Down syndrome.
Michael Thompson '12
A civil engineering major, Thompson has had tremendous success academically and athletically at Lafayette.
He achieved national distinction as the recipient of a Goldwater Scholarship. Awarded for academic merit, the Goldwater is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. He was also awarded an Environmental Protection Agency-Greater Research Opportunity fellowship, which provides funding for research supplies, tuition assistance, a stipend, and a three-month internship with the EPA.
Working as an EXCEL Scholar with David Brandes and Art Kney, both associate professors of civil and environmental engineering, Thompson developed a graphical screening method that can predict the quality of stream water. He presented the research at the 2010 World Environmental & Water Resources Congress, and they are preparing a paper for submission to the Journal of Environmental Management.
He has also worked with Brandes and Kney as part of a large student-faculty initiative examining local flooding and water issues in partnership with the Nurture Nature Center of Easton.
In 2009 and 2010, Thompson helped with the Lafayette Engineers Without Borders project to construct water distribution and filtration systems in the poor, rural villages of El Convento and La Fortuna, Honduras. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering National Honor Society, and has consistently been named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll.
As an athlete, Thompson has scored in the pole vault at five of the six Patriot League Championships in which he has competed. He earned Second Team All-Patriot League honors at the 2010 outdoor championships after a second-place performance. His personal-best marks rank fourth (outdoor) and seventh (indoor) on Lafayette’s all-time lists.
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