Athens, Ga. – Muktha Natrajan, an Honors student at the University of Georgia, has received a 2010 Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation Scholarship. This national award recognizes sophomores and juniors who are pursuing careers focused on environmental or Native American issues.
Natrajan, a third-year student from Martinez, was among a group of 80 Udall Scholars, and is the sixth UGA student to receive the scholarship.She is pursuing a combined bachelor’s/master’s program in which she will earn a bachelor of science degree in genetics and a master of public health degree in environmental health science.
Stephen Pettigrew, a third-year Honors student from Alpharetta, is one of 50 students to receive an honorable mention in the scholarship competition. He is pursuing a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree in political science and a bachelor’s degree in history.
“A sustainable university acts as a living laboratory where sustainability is researched, taught, tested and constantly refined,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “Muktha Natrajan and Stephen Pettigrew demonstrate UGA’s commitment to sustainability and excellence in education daily through their class work, research and environmental advocacy.Their recognition by the Udall Foundation is further evidence of their dedication to UGA and the environment.”
The $5,000 scholarships are administered by the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation, which was created in 1992 by Congress to recognize Morris Udall’s 30 years of service in the U.S. House of Representatives. Last year, Congress expanded the foundation to honor the legacy of former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, his older brother.
Natrajan, also a recipient of the university’s Foundation Fellowship and a 2009 Goldwater Scholar, has been conducting stem cell research in the laboratory of Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar Steven Stice since her freshman year. She also has participated in New York University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program.
With interests in environmental and ecological issues, Natrajan has spearheaded efforts for campus sustainable solutions through the Go Green Alliance, a coalition of UGA environmental groups. As an executive council member and grants committee chair, she has written several proposals for locally and nationally competitive grants.
“Muktha has a very unassuming personality so it was always so much fun interacting with her and learning some new fascinating aspect of her life,” said Ron Carroll, UGA professor of ecology and the scholarship faculty representative. “I look forward to following her career in neurotoxicology or whatever path she chooses.”
Natrajan serves as inaugural director of environmental program implementation for Promote Africa, Inc., an international non-profit organization that supports community development projects in Africa. She also attended the 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as a non-governmental organization delegate for Promote Africa.
After graduation, Natrajan plans to enter a Ph.D. program in neuroscience, focused on toxicology.
Pettigrew has served in leadership roles with the Students for Environmental Action and helped set up the statewide network for Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions. He contributed to a case study on a water dispute in Ecuador through an internship with the Center for Mediation, Peace and Resolution of Conflict last summer. He also participated in the Sierra Student Coalition’s week-long Summer Environmental Leader Training Program.
After graduation in spring 2011, Pettigrew would like to pursue a Ph.D. in political science and then a law degree with a focus on environmental law.
“The Udall Foundation seeks to identify future leaders to help us preserve and protect our national and natural heritage,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. “Muktha and Stephen are very worthy of this recognition. They are inspiring, and I am very proud of them.”
The Udall Scholar announcement comes a week after UGA received word that Honors students had been named 2010 Truman and Goldwater Scholars.
For more information on the Udall Scholarship, see www.udall.gov.
For more information on UGA’s Honors Program, see www.uga.edu/honors.