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Students fare well at Westminster’s Student Symposium on the Environment

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Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

NEW WILMINGTON, PA — Close to 200 people attended the 11th annual Student Symposium on the Environment held Dec. 6 in the McKelvey Campus Center at Westminster College.

The symposium featured environment-focused projects, research, service work, internships, and artwork of students from eight regional colleges and universities including Westminster College, Chatham University, Clarion University, Duquesne University, Geneva College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Slippery Rock University and University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Students from two area high schools, Central Valley High School and Greenville Senior. High School, also participated.

Seventy-three students presented at this year’s symposium, which featured four categories: Environmental Research Poster, Environmental Project Poster, High School Presentation and Oral Presentation.

Westminster student Katarina Lewis earned top prize for her Environmental Project poster presentation on “Stress and exposure to imidacloprid- a neonicotinoid pesticide, affect host selection in Nasonia vitripennis.”

Westminster student Hailey Tammaro won for her Research Poster presentation on “Influence of weather variables on timing of breeding in American kestrels.”

Westminster students Tia Kowalo, Andrew Kearney, Justin Anuszek and Matthew Balczon won for their Oral Presentation on “Investigating microplastics in macroinvertebrates collected from the Little Neshannock Creek, using clean air processing techniques.”

In the high school category, Brian Ross and Trey Wilt from Greenville High School, took home the award for their presentation on “Acorn Parasite Preference.”

Honorable mentions went to Lauren McNany and Courtney Kinkead from Westminster College for their project poster; Rachel Dressler, Melanie Opyrchal and Hannah McElrath from Clarion University for their research poster; Elizabeth Cochran from Duquesne University for her oral presentation; and the Environmental Science AP Class from Central Valley High School for their high school research project.

Participating Westminster alumni included Jamie Linderman, John Matyasovsky, Cassie Treshok and Tyler Umstead who served as judges for the event.

Westminster College and the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition, co-organizers of the event, announced the winners of this year’s symposium. Cash prizes sponsored by Stream Restoration Inc., were awarded to the winners of each category. All awardees received a certificate.

This year was the first for an employment initiative was held in partnership with the Professional Development Center, welcoming regional businesses who brought internship and job opportunities to the presenting students.

The 12th Annual Student Symposium on the Environment will be held on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019.

For more information about the Environmental Symposium, contact Dr. Helen Boylan, professor of chemistry and director of the Center for the Environment, at 724-946-6293 or

Pictured from top to bottom: Katarina Lewis; Hailey Tammaro; Tia Kowalo, Andrew Kearney, Justin Anuszek and Matthew Balczon