April 20, 2011

Two undergrads win Udall scholarships

Karen Chi Lin '13 and Andrew Schoen '12 have received 2011 Morris K. Udall Scholarships for U.S. students with excellent academic records and an interest in careers in environmental public policy, health care and tribal public policy. Rachel Perlman '12 received honorable mention.

This year, 80 scholars were selected from a pool of 510 applicants from 231 institutions.

Lin, an architecture student in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning, has traveled to South Africa as project director of Cornell University Sustainable Design: Schoolhouse in South Africa. While there, she conducted post-occupancy analyses with photographic documentation and interviews for the project.

She is editor-in-chief of its 200-page reference book, which features research on South African history, local building practices, surrounding community infrastructure and analyses, suitable low-tech and low-cost sustainable building technologies, and local building material recommendations.

As a 2009 intern at an eco-resort in Bangladesh, Lin was responsible for designing and building a totally "green" banquet pavilion, its kitchen, bathroom and all furniture and plumbing. The building has no power, water or sewage hookups on site. She is also a freelance photographer and Web designer and has done public relations for Cornell's AquaClara and for Big Red Relief efforts.

Her career goal, she says, is to "pioneer a firm to lead a network of design firms ... to provide sustainable design for communities in need."

Schoen, who is pursuing a dual degree in economics and science of earth systems (in the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering), focuses on solutions that make both economic and environmental sense. He founded a sustainable investment firm in 2008 called Adams Financial LLC, and is the managing director of the Cornell Venture Capital Club.

Before transferring to Cornell, Schoen studied the intersection of economics and the environment at Cambridge University (United Kingdom, summer 2010) and at Yonsei University (South Korea, spring 2010). Originally a student at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Schoen conducted university-sponsored research on the relationship between toxic emissions and economic output.

After graduation, his goal is to "develop a venture capital firm that supports environmentally sound businesses and is itself run sustainably, [thereby] demonstrating that economic prosperity need not be built on environmental degradation."

Perlman, who recently won a Goldwater scholarship recognizing her promise as a scientist, majors in science of natural and environmental systems, with a concentration in sustainability in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is a Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholar and has done research with professors in earth and atmospheric sciences; biological and environmental engineering; and entomology. In spring 2010 she conducted independent research in Costa Rica, mapping sand temperatures related to sea turtle survival and nest management. She plans to earn a Ph.D. in environmental science.

The Udall scholars garnered awards up to $5,000 each. Since 1998, 31 Cornell students have won Udall scholarships.