Student Awards

2022 Lester Scholarship Recipients

We are excited to celebrate the ENVS seniors awarded the 2022 Lester Scholarship. These seniors represent the very best of ENVS – academic excellence, leadership and fostering community within the department and the greater Emory community. Please join us in congratulating these students!

Clare McCarthy 23C
Favorite ENVS course: 131! It was the first time that I had an academic opportunity to work and learn hands-on in the outdoors, and it made me feel as if I was rediscovering nature. I had always enjoyed being outside, but I started to develop a deeper appreciation of the natural world’s ability to be observed, studied, and understood. Of course, it was a really fun class too– and so unique compared to the others I was taking that semester. The sense of community I found in the class made me feel at home in the ENVS department and cemented my decision to pursue the major. Having the opportunity to TA was a great honor as well, and it was touching to watch new ENVS students’ passion and curiosity develop throughout the semester, just as mine had when I took the course.
ENVS/Emory Involvement: I am involved with the Emory Climate Reality Project, a climate activism organization. Currently, we are working with ECO and ECAST to pursue a campaign holding the Emory administration accountable to climate leadership and advocating for greater institutional resources to be directed toward climate and sustainability action. I am also a student representative on the Sustainable Food Committee and a volunteer in the Emory Educational Gardens. I have also supported Emory Climate Talks with various tasks, from social media outreach to blogging. Previously, I have been a General Sustainability Intern for the Office of Sustainability Initiatives and TA for ENVS 131. Outside of my sustainability/environment-specific work, I am involved with the Center for Civic and Community Engagement as a Co-Director of Volunteer Emory’s Alternative Breaks program and a former Community Building and Social Change Fellow. I am also the incoming Vice President of Transportation & Logistics for the Emory Gender Expansive and Women’s Ultimate (EGEWU) frisbee club team.
Research: I worked in the Prokopec lab for the past year. The lab studies arthropod disease vectors, and my duties mainly consisted of collecting ticks in the field and raising mosquitos in the lab. The ticks are analyzed for the presence of Heartland virus, and the mosquitos are studied to see whether Wolbachia bacteria can limit their disease transmission capabilities.
Favorite Emory Tradition: My favorite campus tradition is the Tuesday Farmers Market! It’s always a highlight of my week. I’m sure that others in this group might have the same answer haha, so to avoid repeats, my second answer would be going for runs in Lullwater.

Jack Miklaucic 23C
ENVS/BS on the Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (EAS) Track
Favorite ENVS course: My favorite ENVS class so far is Environmental Thought (ENVS350W)—I am a double major with Philosophy, Politics, and Law, so this class was the perfect intersection of my interests. I think that ethics and critical theory are really important ways to view environmental issues because they can help us see the bigger picture/the root of the problems we are facing. This class was incredibly thought-provoking and eye-opening!
ENVS/Emory Involvement: I am part of the Emory Climate Coalition and thus am working to advance climate action at Emory, which is really exciting! I am also an outgoing co-president of the Emory Climate Analysis and Solutions Team (EcasT), a great organization that I will continue to be involved with next year. I am the treasurer for the Emory Climate Organization as well. Outside of Emory, I have focused on energy equity work in the nonprofit sector from both a data science perspective and a policy one. Outside of the environmental sciences, I sing in the University Chorus at Emory and I’m a tour guide!
Research: I am currently wrapping up a research project with Dr. Saikawa studying the impact of living mulch systems (a particular type of cover crop) on soil ammonia emissions. I am beginning work on a thesis about the impact of state policies on agricultural nitrogen emissions.
Favorite Emory Tradition: This is probably the same as many of the other students, but I love the Emory Farmers Market, and I’m really excited to have the chance to go more next year!

Blake Miller 23C
ENVS/BS Ecology and Conservation (ECO) Track
Favorite ENVS course: ENVS 131 – This was my favorite class because we got to learn a wide variety of topics relating to ENVS and it was a great preview into understanding what future classes would be covering.
ENVS/Emory Involvement: I am currently the President of Outdoor Emory and the Programming Chair for Emory Ecological Society. I am working to make Outdoor Emory more sustainable as an organization and to teach people how to be sustainable in the outdoors.
Favorite Emory Tradition: My favorite Emory activity is the pre-orientation program SOAR, Summer Outdoor Adventure Retreat, which is a program hosted by Outdoor Emory. Outdoor Emory leaders take incoming first-year students out into the wilderness for a 4-day, 3-night trip.

Jackson Pentz 23C
ENVS BS Social Science and Policy Track
Favorite ENVS Course: ENVS 365: Urban Geography with Dr. Page or Environmental Data Science with Dr. Burchfield. They both taught me so much about using spatial data to pose and answer questions, and I loved learning about the history and development of Atlanta. 
ENVS/Emory Involvement: Member of the University Sustainable Food Committee ; Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) summer intern; Founding member of the Emory Ecological Society; Contributor to Emory Climate Talks ampliFIRE podcast series; LEED Green Associate from an internship in sustainable building and design
Research: Planned economics honors thesis and ENVS independent study senior year on the implications of rare earth element extraction from coal ash ponds on sustainable development
Favorite Emory Tradition: Sustainable food book club, looking forward to the ENVS department book club, and pickup/intramural soccer 

Grace Wang 22C
ENVS BS Environment and Health (EVH) Track
Favorite ENVS Course: It’s incredibly hard to choose, but one of my favorites was the first ENVS course I took at Emory, ENVS 120: Living in the Anthropocene with Dr. Donaher. It solidified my scientific understanding of some pressing climate issues and allows me to better explain the urgency of climate change. I also declared my major after taking this class along with one other during my sophomore spring because I truly felt connected to the material and felt that I could make change if I learned more in the discipline.
ENVS/Emory Involvement: A lot of my environmental science work has been through my internships. Last summer, I interned at a green-building consulting company called Sustainable Investment Group as a Sustainability Analyst. I worked on LEED, BREEAM, WELL, and Fitwel certification projects and learned new concepts about how our environment and human health interact. This past fall, I interned as a Built Environment Energy Intern at Atlanta-based non-profit Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance to improve energy and building code via policy and data research to address environmental energy equity. I interpreted field studies reports and graphs to create public-facing documents and presentations. My work felt incredibly impactful in influencing southern region inequities perpetuated by energy policies. And this spring, I work as a Climate and Energy intern at a Boston-based non-profit called Ceres. I am assisting on their Ambition 2030 project, working alongside private sector companies and their investor to set climate goals and comply with their benchmarks. I am spearheading my own project focused on a Just Inclusive Economy (JIE) green transition in the oil and gas sectors, supporting investors and policymakers with data about greenhouse gas emissions and the intersectionality of impacted groups.
Favorite Emory Tradition: Although not an activity, my favorite thing to do on campus after classes or on the weekend is taking walks or going on runs through Lullwater. A lot of my friends didn’t know Lullwater existed, so I’ve introduced this wonderful slice of nature to a lot of people by asking them to join me on my walks. I’ve only experienced campus traditions once given the pandemic year and transitioning from Oxford College, but I really enjoyed the concerts that SAC hosted as way to get together with friends.