May 7, 2015
Three Johnson State College students won an “Outstanding Undergraduate Poster” award at the Geological Society of America Northeastern Section’s 50th annual meeting in March. Vermonters Heather Murphy, a sophomore; Shayna Bennett, a junior; and Erika English, a senior, were three of nine students — the top 5 percent of 192 undergraduates who presented posters about their research — selected by 46 judges for an award.
Both Murphy and Bennett are START Science Scholars — recipients of a competitive, $10,000 annual scholarship at JSC made possible by a major grant from the National Science Foundation.
In the poster competition, JSC bested the presentation from Middlebury College, which was the only other Vermont institution to receive an award. The meeting was held in Bretton Woods, N.H., March 23-25.
The students presented a poster titled “Bacterial Adaptation to an Anthropogenically Altered, Serpentine-Rich Aquatic Environment” summarizing their research into extremophiles living in a pond at the abandoned Vermont Asbestos Group mine in Lowell, Vt., under the guidance of Dr. Liz Dolci, professor and chair of JSC’s Department of Environmental & Health Sciences.
Murphy, the lead author, is an environmental science major from Morgan; Bennett, from Belvidere, is an environmental science major concentrating in analysis and assessment; and English, from Fairfax, is set to graduate in May with a B.S. in biology.