Two University of Georgia students have been awarded the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Hollings Scholarship Program is designed to increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric sciences. The scholarship provides two years of financial support, a 10-week, full-time paid summer internship to any NOAA facility nationwide, and support to participate in two national scientific conferences.
The Hollings Scholarship is named for Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina, a champion for ocean policy and conservation. Before retiring in 2005, Senator Hollings authored the Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act and the Oceans and Human Health Act and increased the national focus and priority of ocean and coastal conservation and research.
Kelly Neighbor is a second-year student majoring in atmospheric sciences and geography in the geography department. Neighbor is a data analyst for UGA Weather Network, a mesonet with 88 stations collecting weather data around the state. Throughout this summer, she will be participating in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Alabama-Huntsville working on improving understanding of tornadic Quasi-Linear Convective Systems in the Southeastern US.
Neighbor has always had a special interest in severe weather and hurricanes. She hopes to intern at a NOAA specialty office, specifically the Storm Prediction Center or National Hurricane Center.
“I cannot believe I was selected out of hundreds of amazing and well-qualified candidates across the country,” said Neighbor. “It means the world to me to be given this opportunity, and I am truly grateful. I couldn’t have reached this point without support from family, mentors, and faculty.”
Maxwell White is a second-year student majoring in atmospheric sciences and geography in Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and economics in the Terry College of Business.
“I’m still in disbelief that I was chosen,” said White. “I think it’s a monumental step in advancing my academic career, and I look forward to making connections with my fellow Hollings Scholars and future NOAA advisor.”
White has been conducting faculty-mentored research with Michelle Ritchie, an assistant professor at UGA’s Institute for Disaster Management and the Department of Health Policy & Management in the College of Public Health. His ongoing research examines the correlation between hotspots of specific types of natural disasters in rural Georgia and local risk perception.
While he is keeping an open mind for his NOAA internship, White hopes to go to the Atlantic Oceanic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami and help with improving hurricane forecasts that are a major threat to the area.
"Kelly and Max are great students and great ambassadors for our atmospheric sciences program, our department of geography, and UGA as a whole,” said John Knox, Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor in the geography department and undergraduate coordinator for the program. “We've now had 5 Hollings Scholars in the past 2 years from our program, and we have only 60 majors. This is one of many national measures of the high quality of UGA, its students, and our program."
The Hollings undergraduate scholars will complete their all-expenses-paid internships during the summer of 2023.
Image: Kelly Neighbor at the UGA Weather Network studios.