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Three seniors earn L&S Dean’s Prizes

May 5, 2015

The College of Letters & Science has awarded the Dean’s Prize to three talented and accomplished students, all of them connected to the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies through the undergraduate major or certificate in environmental studies.

Colin Higgins, Emily McKinney and Austin Yantes will receive their awards at the Letters & Science Honors Program reception May 15 at Gordon Dining and Event Center.

The Dean’s Prize is awarded annually to the college’s most outstanding undergraduate scholars in the senior class. To be considered, students must possess a minimum grade point average of 3.90; be a comprehensive honors candidate in the L&S Honors Program; have completed a thesis or other major research project; and have made significant contributions to the university or broader community.

Higgins, a 2014 Udall Scholarship recipient from Middleton, Wis., is majoring in environmental studies, geography and history, with a certificate in African studies. He has already begun working toward an accelerated Master of Public Affairs and hopes to one day work on public policy in the areas of environmental conservation and economic justice.

“Colin has the highest potential to be an effective environmental leader and to create positive environmental change,” Associate Professor of Geography Morgan Robertson writes in his recommendation letter.

McKinney, an environmental studies and sociology major from Green Bay, Wis., will be moving to Boulder, Colo., after graduation to work at a market research firm. Long-term, she hopes to use big data to address social problems.

“She is highly motivated, hard-working, and reliable,” John DeLamater, Conway-Bascom Professor of Sociology, writes in his recommendation letter. “All of these are qualities associated with good scholarship and productivity.”

Yantes, of St. Michael, Minn., is majoring in biological aspects of conservation and zoology with a certificate in environmental studies. After graduation, she is moving to Burns, Ore., for an internship with the Bureau of Land Management. She plans to attend graduate school in fall 2016 to study freshwater science or water resource management.

“In her time in my lab she has demonstrated an amazing capacity to both lead and work with co-workers, a capacity that will serve her well in her future academic endeavors,” David Bart, an assistant professor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ Department of Landscape Architecture and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, writes in his recommendation letter. “She knows what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how to do it.”

Source: UW-Madison College of Letters & Science News