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College of Arts and Sciences


Students named Hollings Scholars

Prestigious national program boosts undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science and research.

Three rising juniors in the College of Arts and Sciences recently have been selected as 2017 Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholars.

Alexis Bantle, Casey Brayton and Patrick McKenzie will represent the University of South Carolina in this prestigious program that exposes students to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They are among 110 students nationwide to receive the honor.

Bantle is a biology major and chemistry minor who is spending this summer doing research in Germany with a DAAD RISE scholarship. A member of the South Carolina Honors College, Bantle plans to pursue a career in science research. She also has worked in Beth Krizek’s lab conducting research on plant genetics.

Brayton, a marine science and geophysics major with a minor in geography, plans to pursue a career in climate modeling. A member of the Honors College, she recently was named a Udall Scholar. This summer Brayton will complete a research experience for undergraduates at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She previously served as a media relations intern with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. At Carolina, she is the founder and president of Women in Geosciences and co-chair of the Marine Technology Society. She conducts physical oceanography research with Alexander Yankovsky and Ryan Rykaczewski. 

McKenzie is a biology and geography major with a minor in Spanish. Also an Honors College member, he conducts ecology and evolution research under Jeff Dudycha. This summer, McKenzie is completing a research experience for undergraduates at Colby College in Maine. The project focuses on the cultural, economic and ecological roles of church forests in Ethiopia. Last summer, he served as a microbiologist intern for the Ritedose Corporation. McKenzie, who is the risk manager for the USC Mountaineering and Whitewater Club, plans a career in wildlife biology.

School of Earth Ocean and Environment professors Claudia Benitez-Nelson, Jean Taylor Ellis and Gwen Geidel assisted this year’s Hollings Scholars.

Throughout his career in politics, South Carolina Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings was a champion for ocean policy and conservation. The scholarship program was established in his honor in 2005. Since that time, 45 students from Carolina have been selected for the national award.