Student Awards, Student Research

Congratulations to the 2021 Lester Scholarship Recipient, Olivia Milloway 22C

The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction. – Rachel Carson

Please join us in congratulating ENVS rising senior, Olivia Milloway 22C, on receiving the Lester Scholarship. We are honored to recognize Olivia’s gifts as a scholar and her commitment to the preservation of the natural world. 

Growing up in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Olivia’s fascination with the natural world was planted early and blossomed into an uncompromising commitment to preservation – a commitment that has become the foundation of her research and extracurriculars at Emory. A formative experience with a local environmental organization in high school, Olivia discovered “the natural beauty of the scientific method and the writings of Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold, planting within me a love for studying the frogs, butterflies, and birds around me as well as an ethical obligation to spend my life protecting them.”

As part of the Emory Scholars program, Olivia has served as a mentor to incoming students offering advice about adjusting to campus and helping new students identify opportunities to engage at Emory. Olivia knows a little something about keeping busy on campus, she has truly maximized her Emory experience in the face of all the roadblocks that the pandemic has thrown her way.  She serves on the Student Programming Council and is the Grant Writing Coordinator for Herbicide Free Emory – winning a grant from Emory’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives General Sustainability and Social Justice Incentives Fund. She is the Emory Student Chapter Co-President and Co-Founder of the Wildlife Disease Association and has spent the last year as a Virtual Student Federal Service Intern, USFS NatureWatch Program and (and!) she serves on the Executive Board of the Young Democrats of Emory.

Olivia is a researcher in the Gillespie Lab and has focused her research on the linkages between land-use and microbiome composition in the common vampire bat. Her research supervisor, Professor Thomas Gillespie, describes Olivia’s research:

“Many scientists study bat disease dynamics due to the potential threat of disease emergence to humans and in the process sacrifice thousands of bats toward this pursuit. In contrast, Olivia is dedicated to understanding bat disease ecology for the sake of the bats and their conservation. As a result, her minimally-invasive efforts will have a disproportionate capacity to inform solutions to environmental issues.”

Olivia’s research is supported in part by the Halle Institute for Global Research as a part of their undergraduate global research fellowship.

Please join us in congratulating Olivia on her Lester Scholarship – we are honored that Olivia calls ENVS home!

Olivia and her best friend, Clare, at the peak of Mount LeConte in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park