CSU Students Place First at Regional EPA Youth Symposium

algaeCOLUMBUS, Ga. — Environmental science graduate students at Columbus State University took first place recently at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 4 Environmental Youth Symposium in Atlanta.

The nine-student team from the Ecological Methods course taught by Troy Keller, an associate professor of environmental science in CSU's Department of Earth and Space Sciences, took home a $700 first prize in scholarship money in the category of Sustainability and Building a Green Campus for their poster on growing algae in wastewater.

“It was a team effort putting this poster together,” said Seth Ailiff, who's pursuing an environmental science master's degree. “We worked for two weeks to make sure everything on the poster was perfect. In the end, it was something we all were proud of. We did have some good competition, which made winning all the more exciting. It was good to see our hard work pay off.”

CSU's team competed against students and faculty from eight southeastern states.

“We really didn't know what to expect from the other poster entries or how the conference was going to be, considering it was our first time there,” said Afton Tankersley, another graduate student. “The overall experience was great and even better when we were announced as the first place poster winners!”

The group was instructed to follow specific guidelines. Their poster needed to be designed to convey information in an easy-to-view format, conducive to walk-through traffic, and had to: 

  • Identify the green campus issue being addressed.
  • Explain the rationale for the approach used to resolve the issue.
  • Demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of the project, both in conducting the research and applying results.
  • Identify the impact that the research had or was expected to have.

“We worked hard to put the poster together and summarize the research with an emphasis on sustainability,” said Amanda Snow, another CSU graduate student. “Growing algae may not sound exciting, but it has huge potential to influence biofuels and make wastewater treatment more efficient. You will be hearing about the power of algae in the future.”   

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