Ellen Bechtel ’14 Awarded $48,500 Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

December 6, 2012

The Environmental Protection Agency awarded more than $5.3 million in research fellowships this year to students pursuing degrees in environmental studies. Wellesley's Ellen Bechtel '14 is one of 39 undergraduates to receive a Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) fellowship ; 87 graduate students received Science to Achieve Results (STAR) fellowships, according to an EPA press release. These programs exemplify the agency’s efforts to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and encourage leadership in the nation’s environmental science, research restoration, pollution prevention, and sustainability efforts.

Bechtel said, “This opportunity to do science with the help of one of the largest research and policy agencies in the world, in a field that I find fascinating as well as urgently necessary to society, is a dream.”

Bechtel majors in environmental studies with an interest in geoscience, and is involved with the on-campus Sustainability Co-Op or SCOOP. She is also the 2012-13 president (and "tomato wrangler" extraordinaire) of Regeneration, Wellesley's student-run organic farm. In the future, she is interested in exploring the earth’s energy systems and the changes in those systems as human energy use increases.

“The fact that the United States is sponsoring these kinds of programs—huge, fabulous ones that get young people to pursue science, especially in fields that are interdisciplinary and relevant to the well-being of our planet and its people—gives me hope that the country is finally giving priority to preparing the next generation for an uncertain future,” Bechtel said.

Bechtel's GRO fellowship funds will be used in several parts: to pay a portion of Bechtel’s Wellesley tuition, to allow her to conduct research and travel to academic conferences, and to provide a stipend and internship with the EPA during next summer. Last year, Wellesley's Tiana Ramos ’13 was awarded a GRO fellowship from the EPA.

“In a field where it's easy to become pessimistic," added Bechtel, "seeing science opportunities being given to young people keeps me incredibly optimistic about the world which we'll soon be operating in.”

—Gabrielle Linnell ’13