Biology Student Earle Wins Viewer’s Choice Award at Virtual Student Symposium on the Environment

Posted on 12/7/2020 11:36:48 AM
Sierra Earle collecting water samples at Tanoma Wetlands, August 2020

Sierra Earle collecting water samples at Tanoma Wetlands, August 2020

At the 2020 Student Symposium on the Environment, Sierra Earle, a junior in the IUP Biology Department working with Professor Holly Travis, won the Viewer’s Choice Award for the video she created.  Her project, “Diatom diversity, abundance, and richness among four different habitat types,” summarized variations in diatom genera from vegetation and sediment samples collected at two different mine drainage sites.

Sierra analyzed her samples using the scanning electron microscope housed in the IUP Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The 2020 Student Symposium on the Environment is an annual event hosted by Westminster College and co-organized with the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition. The symposium announced its award winners during a virtual presentation and award ceremony event on Zoom on December 3.

The annual symposium, highlighting environmental study, research, artistic expression, and service work being done by students in the region, is typically held in person with student poster presentations, displays, and oral presentations. “This year’s event went virtual,” explained Helen Boylan, director of the Center for the Environment at Westminster and event organizer. “Students created short videos to portray their work, and these were showcased on the Symposium’s YouTube channel.”

Featured on the Symposium YouTube channel is a fireside chat with renowned environmentalist and Westminster College alumnus David W. Orr.

Forty-seven students representing Chatham University, Duquesne University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Saint Vincent College, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and Westminster College participated in the video showcase. 

Environmental and other professionals judged the videos in three different categories: Ecosystem Investigations, Environmental Education, and Business, Policy, and Society of the Environment. Viewers’ choice awards were also granted for videos with the most engagement.  

Top awardees in all categories earned a cash prize thanks to the generosity of the environmental consulting company BioMost, Inc.

Visit the Symposium YouTube channel to see the award winners in a playlist.