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Science Students Nab National Honors

imageChemistry Superstar Wins Ratte Award

Faculty members describe Angela Blum ‘05 as a “virtual whiz kid” in academics and as a person “driven by a passion for science and a desire to improve the world.” To honor Blum’s accomplishments, faculty members at Lewis & Clark selected her for the Rena J. Ratte award in May. The award is the College’s highest academic honor and the recipient is revealed with much fanfare during Honors Convocation.

Blum graduated summa cum laude in chemistry, with departmental honors, and earned a cumulative 3.98 GPA. Along the way, she garnered a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and was a finalist for the prestigious Hertz Foundation Fellowship. She is a Pamplin fellow and a dean’s scholar, and received an honorable mention for the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.

But Blum isn’t just brainy, she’s also an athlete. In her first semester at Lewis & Clark, she was named “All Region” in cross country at the Western Regional Championships by the NCAA Division III. She holds the distinction of being the ninth-fastest first-year student ever to run the 5-kilometer race for Lewis & Clark’s cross country team. An injury forced her to the sidelines of competitive collegiate athletics, but she is currently training for the Seattle marathon.

Blum’s goal is to be a professor of organic chemistry at a research university. “Chemistry is woven into every avenue of my life,” she says. “My greatest aspiration is to share this passion with younger generations of researchers.”

Blum had many choices available to her for graduate school, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, and Stanford University. She finally chose to attend the California Institute of Technology, where she had served as a research assistant for Robert Grubbs, Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry.

“I predict that Angela will become an important figure in the field of chemistry,” says Janet Davidson, associate professor of psychology, who at one time hoped to see Blum major in psychology.

Rena Ratte was a Lewis & Clark philosophy instructor and professor during the 1960s. Following her unexpected death in 1970, colleagues, students, and friends established the award to honor Ratte’s memory.

imageGoldwater Scholar

Brian Erickson ’06, a biology major from Kirkwood, Missouri, is among 320 students nationwide to receive a 2005 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards available to undergraduates. Since 1995, more than a dozen Lewis & Clark students have received the one year $7,500 scholarship, which is based on academic merit.

Erickson came to Lewis & Clark for the College’s strong academic programs, including environmental studies and biology. He is a member of Students Engaged in Eco- Defense (SEED), a group dedicated to raising environmental awareness and improving environmental practices, both on and off campus. SEED recently pursued green energy purchases for the institution and encouraged Lewis & Clark to sign the international sustainability Talloires Declaration.

Erickson has spoken at the Northwest Clean Energy conference, traveled to Kenya and Tanzania to study human-elephant conflicts, and worked with Ken Clifton, assistant professor of biology, to research the sexual reproduction of tropical green algae. He is a Pamplin fellow and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He also performs in the College’s wind symphony and jazz band.

Over the summer, Erickson is working with the Grand Canyon Trust to collect baseline data to be used in the development of a sustainable grazing policy for lands in the southwestern United States.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is exciting to me because it means I am one of the top science students in the country,” says Erickson. “I plan to pursue a doctorate in animal behavioral ecology or evolution so I can become a teacher and research scientist.”

Erickson’s success in the biology department supports the opinion of a recent external review team that said Lewis & Clark has one of the top 20 to 25 biology programs at liberal arts colleges in the nation. 

imageTwo Udall Scholars

Biology majors Sasha Stortz and Brian Erickson, a recently named Goldwater scholar (see above), have received 2005 Morris K. Udall scholarships. The Lewis & Clark College students are two of 81 students nationwide to receive the $5,000 award. They are the College’s fifth and sixth Udall scholars.

Sasha Stortz ’07, from Sitka, Alaska, is active in multiple community projects. She serves as Amnesty International’s student groups coordinator for Oregon, served as a steering committee member for Lewis & Clark’s International Affairs Symposium, plays classical violin and fiddle, and will travel to Kenya and Tanzania in the fall as part of Lewis & Clark’s overseas study program.

“This award is about community,” says Stortz. “It’s about the tremendous support and encouragement I have received from my community at home and at school, and it’s about energizing my personal commitment to conservation and human rights.” She hopes to work in conservation biology, community collaboration, or genocide prevention.

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