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  • Kate Munning

2023 Scholarship Winners Shine

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

The winners are in! We are extremely proud to showcase the five NJ students who have been awarded TLCNJ's 2023 scholarships, each of whom was given $7,500 to support their pursuit of a degree in environmental science or a related field. In 2024, the 40th anniversary of our scholarship program, we aim to increase these awards to $10,000 for each student.


Several of our winners attended the dinner after this year's Gray Cup golf tournament, and we got to hear about their fascinating research and plans for the future. It's energizing to learn what these future environmental leaders have in store, and makes us more optimistic for the future. Time to meet the winners!


First up is Adam Gelfand, who was born in Livingston and now resides in Scotch Plains.


Adam says, “I am an ecologist who sees the natural world through the eyes of trees. As an undergraduate, I studied environmental education at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. Since then I have worked as a habitat restoration technician, teacher, and habitat monitor in NJ and NYC. I am currently working towards a master’s degree in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology from Columbia University. My research interests include tree rings, habitat restoration, indigenous land stewardship and sovereignty, and climate change. I’d like to work in non-profit land management, conservation science, and conducting research that supports land back movements.”


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Sophia Ludtke, TLCNJ's second scholarship winner! Sophia grew up in Gladstone, NJ and is a rising junior at Harvard, where she studies earth science and environmental policy.


Sophia says, "My research is related to hybrid solar-wind renewable energy on agricultural land, the human health impact of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and the effects of climate change on human migration and civil conflict in Israel and Palestine. In addition, I have experience working at a regenerative farm in rural Illinois and leading backpacking and hiking trips throughout the Blue Ridge and White Mountains. I’m very excited to be spending this summer conducting glaciology field work on the Juneau Icefield in Alaska!"


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Jose Antunes is a Newark native and a PhD student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the department of chemistry and environmental science. He currently studies enzymes that biodegrade 1,4-dioxane, a groundwater contaminant and probable human carcinogen. These enzymes have the potential to remediate polluted environments and improve water quality. Jose looks forward to seeing the results of his work applied in the field. He is also a community leader as the co-founder of GIDE, NJIT's the first DEIJ organization for graduate students.


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Kylie Bill is from Florham Park, a rising junior at American University double majoring in studio art and environmental science, Kylie has always used art to express her love for nature, and her scientific research focuses on plant biodiversity in an evolutionary context. Kylie applied these methods in her Gold Award project to restore land in her hometown into a native meadow for birds and pollinators, as well as in her current research on how floral scent affects the foraging patterns of the Eastern Bumblebee.


Congratulations, Kylie! It's so exciting and inspiring to learn about the work of these young environmentalists, and to see how they'll shape a better world in their careers.


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Our fifth and final scholarship winner this year is Eliza Rothenburger, a rising junior at Virginia Tech studying wildlife conservation. Eliza is currently studying the impact of climate change on shorebirds on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and has done similar work with deer, bears, weasels, and scavengers.


Eliza says, “I hope to be able to determine what species I enjoy working with the most, and what kind of research I have a true passion for. Right now, my goal is to do field research, focusing on studying animal behavior in natural habitats with a focus on threatened and endangered species.”


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