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2022 Student Symposium on the Environment winners announced

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Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Winners of the 2022 Student Symposium on the Environment, an annual event hosted by Westminster College and co-organized with the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition, were announced during an awards ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 1, in the McKelvey Campus Center on Westminster’s campus.

The 15th annual symposium featured environment-focused projects, research, artistic expression, internships and service work done by regional college and high school students from Westminster College, Chatham University, Duquesne University, Pennsylvania Western University, Thiel College, Youngstown State University, Butler Senior High School, Central Valley High School, Lower Merion High School and Wilmington Area High School.

A record number of 115 students presented 73 projects among seven main categories: environmental project posters, environmental research posters, oral presentations, high school presentations, photography, artwork and video program.

This year’s winners and honorable mentions are:

Environmental Project Winner: “How Do Biotic Interaction in the Soil Contribute to Coastal Forest Ecosystem Resilience?” by Mia DiCianna, Chatham University.

Environmental Project Honorable Mention: “Boat Steward Internship at Pymatuning State Park” by Zoe Heckthorn, Thiel College.

Environmental Research Presentation Winner: “Investigating Impact of Homeowners Private Water Supply by Hydraulic Fracturing Communication with Abandoned Wells” by Kiley Miller, Duquesne University.

Environmental Research Presentation Honorable Mention: “Fungal Community Diversity Provides Potential Management Strategy for Spread of Microstegium Vimineum” by John Mamas, Chatham University.

Oral Presentation Winner: “Kinetic Degradation of Dye by TAML/H202 as Potential Remediation of Wastewater” by Claire Mock, Westminster College.

Oral Presentation Honorable Mention: “Repeated Survey of Odonta Associated with the Stream in the Allegheny National Forest” by Haley McEvoy, Jack Merola-Lapson and Sara Parker, Chatham University.

Photography Winner: “Endangered Species: Massasauga Rattlesnake” by Benjamin Busler, Butler Senior High School.

Photography Honorable Mention: “Reflection” by Linnea Funari, Wilmington Area High School.

Artwork Winner: “Lazarus Species: Zanzibar Leopard” by Ryan Wasilko, Westminster College.

Artwork Honorable Mention: “Lazarus Species: Hawaii Mamo” by Olivia Lapikas, Westminster College.

Video Project Winners: “The Life of a Buzzfeed Cluster Student” by Samantha Sophia Galietta, Josh Collins, Shea O’Donnell and Avery Keenan, Westminster College.

Video Project Honorable Mentions: “Puerto Rico’s Environmental Crises” by Samantha Story, Felicity McDaniel and Ryan Gomes, Westminster College.

High School Research Presentation Winners: “A Citizen Approach to Analyzing Water Quality and Establishing a Baseline for Plastic/Nurdle Pollution in the Ohio River Valley” by Craig Whipkey’s AP Environmental Science class, Central Valley High School. Class members included Tanner Baughman, Sophia Colonias, Nadia Ehle, Julia Haney, Zachary Mclean, Brenan Morgan, Sydney Slater, Richard Turkovich, Gabrielle White, Gianna Cercone, Connor Denes, Megan Grimm, Hannah Harper, Jordan Hunter, Sydney McDermott, Sara Milozewski, Gaille Oneill, Mia Spinelli and Rowan Zilian.

Top awardees in the seven main categories earned cash prizes sponsored by the generosity of the environmental consulting company BioMost, Inc.

A networking lounge, sponsored by Westminster College’s Professional Development Center (PDC), gave students the opportunity to interact with judges in between rounds.

The 16th Annual Student Symposium on the Environment will be held on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023.

To view a video of the winners, click here.

For more information about the symposium, contact Dr. Helen Boylan, director of the Center for the Environment, at or 724-946-6293.