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 Phillip Rollfing  

STAR Fellowship

Doctoral student earns
prestigious STAR fellowship



For his research examining the degree to which wetland loss and alteration affected flooding over a 12-year period in costal Texas, Wesley E. Highfield, an urban and regional science Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University, was awarded a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Fellowship. Highfield was one of 100 recipients of the award that were selected from over 2,500 applicants. He was the first Texas A&M College of Architecture student to receive the award, as well as the first STAR fellowship recipient who is conduction social science research.

“The award is widely considered one of the most prestigious and lucrative graduate fellowships in the country, and the top award for those conducting environmental research in the natural and social sciences,” said Sam Brody, Highfield’s academic advisor and assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning. “The award is a life-changing opportunity for the recipient and adds significant prestige to the institution in which the student researches.”

Highfield will receive $37,000 each year for the next three years, for a total of $111,000 to continue his research. Highfield said his research takes a broad look at a topic that has been traditionally been studied on a much smaller scale.

“ As a whole, the research has the ability to encompass many facets of federal and state policy, environmental hazards and human impacts that have led to overall environmental degradation,” Highfield said. “It provides an opportunity to illuminate the possible effects of federal environmental policy and approaches that may or may not be causing society and the environment harm.”

Since the STAR program’s inception in 1995, approximately 1000 fellowships have been awarded, encouraging promising students to obtain advanced degrees and pursue careers in environmentally related fields.

“Most importantly, being selected as a STAR Fellow will hopefully create opportunities that would have otherwise been more difficult to realize,” Highfield said. “To be perfectly honest, I am still a bit shocked that I received the fellowship. It is a great honor to have been selected from such company.”

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