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Two LSU Students Named 2020 Udall Honorable Mentions

Udall Scholarships and Honorable Mentions are awarded to students based on their commitment to careers in environment, Native health care or tribal public policy; leadership potential; record of public service; and academic achievement. This year Ogden Honors students and LASAL Scholars John “Adam” Howe and Maggie Knight have been named 2020 Udall Honorable Mentions. Out of 429 eligible applicants, only 55 scholars and 55 honorable mentions were selected.  

Adam Howe is a junior studying biological and agricultural engineering in LSU’s College of Engineering. His professional aspiration is to contribute to inevitabilities in long term societal development. These contributions include the shift to carbon-neutral biofuels, equitable distribution of locally sourced agricultural products, low energy saltwater desalination, equitable distribution of water resources, and the transition to a circular economy through waste management systems that repurpose rather than landfilling waste streams. To do so, he wants to start his career in a R&D lab designing bio-based and biodegradable foams, fuels, membranes, and single-use items.

Howe is pursuing an independently designed thesis with Dr. Kevin Hoffseth, where he is evaluating the mechanical properties of bio-composite materials created from agricultural waste products and fungal mycelium. Biological materials that optimize certain material properties such as thermal conductance, thermal resistance, strength, or flexibility can be used in place of synthetic materials. Biological materials also have the added benefit of decomposing after use. By quantifying the different material properties of various species of fungi on various substrates, advances can be made in bio-material construction and production for goods such as single-use plastic dishware replacements, insulation material, or beams and other structural components. This research could lead him to discover an economically relevant material that can be used by businesses. 

Maggie Knight, also a Stamps Scholar, is a junior studying coastal environmental science in the College of the Coast & Environment and marine biology the College of Science. Her career goals are to advocate for species impacted by the Anthropocene’s biodiversity loss and focus on treating animals exposed to chemical and plastic pollution. She hopes to pursue a degree from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University to train in the International Veterinary Medicine program. After graduating, she wants to begin her career at an institution like the Sausalito Marine Mammal Center which focuses on conducting scientific research, releasing animals to the wild, and educating the public about marine mammal conservation.

Knight is currently doing environmental toxicology work under Dr. Laura Basirico, focusing on the photodegradation of a rice herbicide, benzobicyclon, in fields contaminated with seawater. Using high-performance liquid chromatography, she has found that seawater accelerates the photodegradation of the herbicide caused by trace amounts of metals that naturally occur in the ocean. Knight would like to expand her research to include the effects of microplastics on the herbicide later this year. Since plastics are a relatively new invention, the scientific community does not fully understand how they will impact the environment in the future. Current studies suggest that as plastics float in the ocean, they accumulate persistent organic pollutants (POPs), chemicals that can have serious health consequences on humans and animals. Her research has given her a strong foundation in environmental toxicology, which she plans to use to become an adept problem solver as a veterinarian in the future.


About the Udall Foundation

Established by Congress in 1992, the Udall Foundation awards scholarships, fellowships, and internships for study in fields related to the environment and to Native Americans and Alaska Natives in fields related to health care and Tribal public policy; provides funding to the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy to conduct policy research and outreach on the environment and related themes and to the Native Nations Institute for research, education, and outreach on Native American and Alaska Native health care issues and Tribal public policy issues; operates the Stewart L. Udall Parks in Focus Program, which helps connect middle school youth to nature through photography, environmental education, and outdoor recreation; and provides assessment, mediation, training and other related services through the John S. McCain III National Center for Environmental Conflict Resolution

About the Office of Fellowship Advising

The Ogden Honors College Office of Fellowship Advising advises current students and recent graduates from all colleges at LSU as they apply for prestigious national and international fellowships. Students interested in applying for a Udall Scholarship may contact Drew Lamonica Arms, director of the Office of Fellowship Advising, at

The Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College

The Ogden Honors College, established in 1992, is a vibrant, diverse and prestigious community located at the heart of LSU. The Ogden Honors College provides students with a curriculum of rigorous seminar classes, as well as opportunities for undergraduate research, culminating in the Honors Thesis. Its focus on community service, study abroad, internships and independent research helps today’s high-achieving students become tomorrow’s leaders.