Geology student earns NSF fellowship


Kimmaree Menendez Horvath

Kimmaree Menendez Horvath, a senior undergraduate geology and environmental science student at The University of Akron, was selected to receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship.

Horvath, vice president of the UA Geology Club and member of the UA student chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, also has been the recipient of numerous other scholarships and awards throughout her academic career. These include the Ohio EPA Environmental Science and Engineering Scholarship, the Bernard Osher Foundation Reentry Scholarship, the American Geological Institute Minority Geoscience Scholarship and the Choose Ohio First STEM Scholarship.

Focus on coral reef environments

A 2009 recipient of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Scholarship, Horvath spent 10 weeks with NOAA researchers studying the effects of ocean acidification on coral reef environments. Her work led her to pursue the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, with which she will further study ocean acidification on coral reefs in a natural setting, enabling her to quantitatively decide the effect of CO2 on the corals.

“During her time in the Department of Geology and Environmental Science, Kimmaree has taken on research projects in several aspects of geology,” says Dr. John Szabo, department chair and professor of geology. “She has excelled at finding funding to finance her undergraduate education. This talent will serve her well in seeking support for both her graduate research and for research as a future faculty member at a research university.”

Pursuing a second career

Horvath will graduate from UA in May with a B.S. in Geology and a certificate in environmental science, summa cum laude. While currently reviewing offers for graduate study, she plans to pursue her Ph.D. and looks to obtain a faculty position in her field where, in addition to conducting research, she aims to contribute to the application of research to K-12 education, helping to foster an interest in science among young students.

“The NSF fellowship is making graduate school possible for me,” says Horvath, a mother with two young children. She adds her decision to pursue a second career prompted her decision to return to school. She says her passion for the outdoors and the environment led her to study geology and environmental science as a way to contribute to preserving the landscapes she grew up experiencing throughout the world.

The NSF Fellowship program is the oldest of its kind and has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Past recipients include Nobel Prize winners, a U.S. Secretary of Energy and the founder of Google.

Fellows are given a stipend of $30,000 for 12 months, in increments of $2,500 a month, and are awarded for a maximum of three years over a five-year period.

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