Campus: San Francisco State University -- July 13, 2005

SFSU Student Earns Morris K. Udall Scholarship For Environmental Work

Charlotte Ely wins award named for congressman who championed environmental causes

San Francisco State University senior Charlotte Ely may be soft-spoken, but her voice rings loud and clear in the environmentalist community. Her dedication to the environment, volunteer work and her education has earned her a $5,000 Morris K. Udall Scholarship.

Ely, a San Francisco native who lives in the Glen Park neighborhood, is the first SFSU recipient of this award. This year, 81 scholars were selected from among 436 candidates. The Udall Foundation awards renewable, merit-based scholarships to U.S. students, like Ely, who demonstrate outstanding commitment to the environment, tribal public policy or health care.

"Charlotte is a passionate and caring student; she is very bright," said Barbara Holzman, associate professor of geography and human environmental studies. "Her passion for making change, her awareness for the uniqueness of the planet, and her willingness to work hard made her a choice candidate and an appropriate recipient of the Udall scholarship."

Morris K. Udall served in the House of Representatives for three decades and was "one of the most successful and most powerful environmental congressmen in the history of the United States," Ely said. His love for the environment resulted in numerous pieces of legislation, chief among them the Alaska Lands Act of 1980, which doubled the size of the national park system and tripled the country's national wilderness.

During the application process for the scholarship, Ely left her English tutoring job to devote more time to such environmental-based organizations as the Sierra Club, Green Action, ArcEcology and Organic Consumers Association.

She now interns at Presidio National Park, where she monitors rare plants and helps restore the native habitat.

Ely, an environmentalist since childhood, plans to graduate next year with a bachelor's degree in environmental studies. She expects to combine her knowledge of biological and social sciences to advocate for the use of remediation waste-water treatment, a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to replace water sanitization methods used in polluted water ways and oil spills.

Remediation waste-water treatment, also known as bioremediation or phytoremediation, uses micro-organisms, plants and mushrooms to rid water of pollutants instead of boiling out the toxins, which disrupts the surrounding ecosystem.

"We go at a snail's pace for problems that are moving faster than we can even begin to comprehend," Ely said, commenting on the lack of remediation funding and research.

Ely hopes to eventually land a position within the Environmental Protection Agency's remediation division to encourage the use of bio/phytoremediation across the country.

Contact: Matt Itelson, (415) 338-1743; (415) 338-1665; matti@sfsu.edu


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