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November 10, 2010

Environmental Studies Major Awarded EPA Fellowship

Rachel Lamb

A prestigious fellowship will allow a Wheaton student to pursue her interests in environmental research and public policy.  

Rachel Lamb ’12, an Environmental Studies and International Relations major, has been awarded a Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) Fellowship For Undergraduate Study from the Environmental Protection Agency. The two-year fellowship will provide Lamb with nearly $50,000, including a scholarship, a stipend, and funding for research and academic travel. She will also complete a three-month summer internship in an EPA facility.

The EPA awards the GRO fellowship to students who demonstrate strong potential to contribute to environmental protection. Lamb is one of only 30 students nationwide to receive such a fellowship.

“I know of no other award as large given to an undergraduate, and only one other that carries a similar level of prestige,” said Dr. Fred Van Dyke, director of the Environmental Studies program. “Rachel has a body of work that the EPA should have, and did, recognize as being worthy of the award.”

In addition to her coursework, Lamb has served as president of A Rocha, a student environmental organization, as well as a member of Wheaton’s Environmental Stewardship and Assessment Commission, a group that provides Wheaton’s president with recommendations on best environmental practices. In 2009, she organized the International Day of Climate Action on campus. Additionally, as part of an effort led by the National Religious Coalition for Creation Care Conference, Lamb organized a group of students to meet with congressmen and senators in Washington, D.C. She has also completed a summer internship with the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality.

Lamb is interested in the scientific and political issues related to climate change. In order to deepen her research, she plans to combine her fellowship with a service-learning internship in a Latin American country through Wheaton’s Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program.

“There’s a lot of talk about sustainable development in third-world countries, but sometimes the discussion of the crops that can be grown and farming techniques doesn’t take climate change into account,” Lamb said. “As an industrialized nation, the U.S. will probably be able to adapt. But countries that don’t have a lot of resources will be harder hit. That’s a significant problem for our brothers and sisters in Christ in those countries.”

Lamb’s research will combine international politics, economics, and anthropology with her focus on environmental studies to understand how to mitigate the effects of climate change in poorer countries.

Van Dyke said the fellowship will allow Lamb to develop leadership qualities within the constraints of a government agency, and provide networking opportunities. Still, he said, Lamb is focused on using her gifts to serve.

“Rachel will develop as an outstanding environmental professional and a leader in her field,” he says. “But although she is very savvy about understanding how career development works, she is not a careerist—she is genuinely other-centered, and wants to ensure that she’ll be able to do things that are service-oriented.”

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