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WKU student awarded EPA Greater Research Opportunity Fellowship

Paul Fleischmann, a WKU chemistry and biology major from Crestwood and a 2012 graduate of the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, was one of 40 students nationwide awarded a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greater Research Opportunity Fellowship.

Paul Fleischmann

Paul Fleischmann

An Honors College student, Fleischmann, the son of Randall Fleischmann and Maria Fleischmann, is interested in pursuing a career in environmental research and is currently conducting research with WKU Professor Shivendra Sahi, Assistant Director of the Applied Research and Technology Program. The EPA GRO fellowship will provide Fleischmann additional opportunities to engage in environmental research and will support his current work.

“Paul has been working in my research lab for the last year studying alfalfa plants and their ability for enhanced uptake of phosphorus from contaminated sites,” Dr. Sahi said. “Excess phosphorus has become a major environmental problem because of use of poultry and animal manure as fertilizer source for crop lands. Excess phosphorus from the soil washes out and pollutes nearby water-bodies, causing eutrophication.”

Dr. Sahi said Fleischmann is simulating high phosphorus conditions in the lab and growing alfalfa to study its potential for enhanced phosphorus accumulation in plant tissues. He has been able to show that alfalfa can accumulate high phosphorus in roots and shoots. He has also isolated RNA to study the expression profile of phosphorus-related genes in alfalfa.

Fleischmann is also studying risks associated with release of nanoparticles in environment. He is researching effect of TiO2 nanoparticles on growth and development of plants.

Fleischmann said he appreciates the assistance he has received at WKU in the pursuit of the fellowship.

“I’d like to thank the Office of Scholar Development, specifically Audra Jennings, for all of the help and support given to me during the application process. I’d also like to thank Dr. Sahi and the members of his research group for mentoring me,” he said.

Fleischmann is no stranger to taking advantage of opportunities for professional development. As a student at Gatton Academy, he studied biology and conducted research abroad in Costa Rica during the 2012 winter term. He was also a 2012 recipient of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth that allowed him to study Arabic in Marrakech, Morocco.

Fleischmann is pursuing an opportunity in January 2014 in New Delhi, India, to learn proteomics as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as part of its Greater Research Opportunities Fellowships program, offers undergraduate fellowships for bachelor-level students in environmental fields of study. The Agency awarded approximately 40 new fellowships in the summer of 2013.  Eligible students receive support for their junior and senior years of undergraduate study and for an internship at an EPA facility during the summer of their junior year. The fellowship provides up to $20,700 per academic year of support and $8,600 of support for a three-month summer internship. Students must be sophomores to apply.

About the Office of Scholar Development: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping students on all campuses and in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Greater Research Opportunity Fellowship or other similar opportunities. Call to schedule an appointment with the Office of Scholar Development at (270) 745-5043.

Contact: Cheryl Kirby-Stokes, (270) 745-4191.

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