BVU student wins award at conference

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Dr. Melinda Coogan and Rosalind Russell

Buena Vista University student Rosalind Russell was recently awarded Best Student Oral Presentation at the Society of Wetland Scientists - North Central Chapter Annual Meeting in Fargo, N.D. on Oct. 12-14.

Russell, a senior distributive sustainable development major from Rochester, was the only undergraduate among twenty graduate students and professional wetland scientists to present at the conference.

“I was baffled to learn I had won Best Oral Presentation,” said Russell. “I feel especially honored because I didn’t think my work was comparable to graduate work. The experience truly gave me a boost in confidence.”

Russell was selected to present at the conference after submitting an abstract based on information and research gathered during internships with the City of Storm Lake and Emmons & Olivier Resources in Storm Lake. Her presentation, entitled “An Approach to Valuing Urban Wetlands Using Economic, Social, Environmental, and Political Factors,” discussed the importance of addressing urban water quality issues through collaborative wetland remediation efforts.

“Rosie’s internships provided her with an inside look at how municipal and private entities work together to improve water quality and create urban habitat,” said Dr. Melinda Coogan, professor of biology at BVU. “The fact that she was the only undergraduate presenter at the conference is quite an accomplishment.”

Russell attributes a lot of her success at BVU to Coogan, who is her academic advisor.

“Dr. Coogan has played a huge role in my life,” said Russell. “Not only does she provide academic guidance, but also life guidance in general. She encourages me to try new things and has opened the door to so many amazing opportunities.”

All costs associated with the trip, including travel and lodging, were funded by the Stine Endowment, which was established in 2014 by agribusiness entrepreneur Harry Stine and his wife, Molly, for the BVU School of Science.

“Rosie is a perfect example of how BVU students are able to apply research and personal interests toward the improvement of local communities,” said Coogan.

Russell, who is exploring graduate school and employment options after graduating from BVU in May, added, “I am grateful to have had the chance to attend the conference. Not only did I present my research, but I had the opportunity to network and get to know so many others whose interests and passions align with mine.”