Athens, Ga. – Christina Faust, a University of Georgia Honors student from Athens, has been awarded a 2008 Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a prestigious national honor recognizing outstanding juniors who are preparing for public service careers.
Faust, a graduate of Cedar Shoals High School, is pursuing a dual bachelor’s/master’s degree in ecology. She is the daughter of Lynn and the late Tim Faust, a former professor in UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Faust is among 65 recipients chosen from across the U.S. from a pool of 595 candidates. She is the fifth UGA Truman Scholar in the past six years and the 15th UGA recipient since 1982.
“Christina Faust is truly one among us who has excelled. She is an outstanding student who offers future leadership in the areas of environmental science and sustainability,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “We are all excited for her and proud of her accomplishments.”
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by an act of Congress in 1975 as a living memorial to the former U.S. president who was dedicated to education and public service during his life. The scholarships, worth up to $30,000 for graduate study, recognize students with demonstrated leadership potential and stellar academic records who are committed to making a difference through public service.
“Her friends do not necessarily know Christina as the author of scholarly journal articles or the recipient of best poster presentation awards,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program and UGA’s faculty representative for the Truman Scholarship. “Rather, they know Christina with the effervescent, ever-present smile, who leads by strong example and as an officer in groups such as Habitat for Humanity, and they work alongside her as a mentor and volunteer. She is truly a renaissance person.”
Faust, who is also the recipient of a Foundation Fellowship, UGA’s premier undergraduate scholarship for academically outstanding students, has traveled to five continents. She was first introduced to sustainable development while on a trip to Ecuador led by Ron Carroll, a professor of ecology and co-director of the River Basin Center at UGA. Independent study abroad trips to New Zealand and Greece further developed her interest in wildlife conservation and infectious diseases.
“Christina is one of those amazing, rare individuals who happily takes on many responsibilities and does all of them exceeding well, whether academic courses, research, service, or athletics,” said Carroll.
Through the Eugene P. Odum School of Ecology, the nation’s first and only stand-alone ecology school, Faust is conducting thesis research on environmental factors affecting the transmission of avian influenza virus during its aquatic cycle.
“Christina’s energy and dedication are extraordinary and inspiring,” said Sonia Altizer, an assistant professor of ecology and one of Faust’s mentors. “Her breadth of interests and past experiences both in the lab and around the world are impressive. Christina’s research on viral uptake by aquatic invertebrates is very relevant to understanding how human pressures on the environment will affect both biodiversity and future threats from infectious diseases.”
Under the guidance of David Stallknecht, Justin Brown and Elizabeth Howerth at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine, she also has completed experiments on how bivalves (aquatic mollusks) absorb the virus.
“Christina is incredibly bright and is the first undergraduate/graduate student that we have worked with to combine both ecology and veterinary medicine in her research endeavors,” said Stallknecht, an associate professor of population health. “Her project, investigating influenza virus uptake by bivalves, is the first to document a biotic component of the ecosystem that can affect the environmental persistence of these viruses. We hope that this successful collaboration, made possible by Christina’s hard work and dedication, will encourage more students to take advantage of the opportunities of pursuing scholarship in both fields.”
With these research experiences, Faust was one of 12 student presenters at the International Wildlife Disease Association international conference in summer 2007. She also participated in UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities symposium last spring.
“I am very honored to receive this scholarship and look forward to representing the University of Georgia,” said Faust. “I could not have come this far without the support of my family, friends, and the amazing people in the Honors Program, the School of Ecology and the SCWDS.”
For the 2008 Founders’ Day lecture in commemoration of UGA’s 223rd anniversary, Faust was selected to deliver the student response to the “Turning the Tide, Saving the Seas” speech given by Dorinda G. Dallmeyer, director of UGA’s Environmental Ethics Certificate Program.
During her undergraduate career, Faust has been involved with the UGA chapter of Habitat for Humanity, the Ecology Club and the Society of Conservation Biology. She also served on the planning committee for a January symposium at UGA that was part of a national teach-in promoting global warming solutions.
Faust also has served on the steering committee for Let’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a UGA student coalition.
After Faust earns her UGA degrees in May 2009, she plans to attend veterinary school to pursue a DVM and a Ph.D. With her specialization in ecology and evolution of infectious diseases, Faust would like to conduct research for environmental non-profits or non-governmental organizations, integrating ecological concepts with sustainable development and conservation strategies.
For more information on the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, see www.truman.gov.
For more information on UGA’s Honors Program, see www.uga.edu/honors.