Christina Faust, a University of Georgia Honors student from Athens, is one of 12 national recipients of the 2009-2010 George J. Mitchell Postgraduate Scholarship. She will use her fellowship to study immunology and global health at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
Faust, who is pursuing a dual bachelor's/master's degree in ecology, was previously named a 2008 Truman Scholar and a 2008 Udall Scholar. The UGA senior, a graduate of Cedar Shoals High School, is the daughter of Lynn and the late Tim Faust, a former professor in UGA's Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and the granddaughter of Bob and Marian Olyha, also of Athens.
Faust was chosen from a pool of 300 candidates and is among the 10th anniversary class of Mitchell Scholars. She is the first Mitchell Scholarship recipient at UGA.
"Christina Faust is clearly one of the brightest stars in the UGA academic sky, and I am very proud of her," said UGA President Michael F. Adams. "She has demonstrated remarkable talent and the ability to master a variety of areas of study, characteristics which bode well for her future. I expect great things from Christina."
The Mitchell Postgraduate Scholarship, named in honor of the former U.S. senator who served as chairman of the historic peace negotiations in Northern Ireland in 1998, is a nationally competitive fellowship sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance for one-year of graduate study in any discipline offered by institutions in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The award promotes a spirit of community and global understanding through linking future American leaders with the island of Ireland.
"Many of our students impress me, but Christina Faust truly inspires me," said David S. Williams, director of UGA's Honors Program. "We need leaders who understand the delicate interwoven nature of our complicated ecosystems, and who can envision and articulate answers and approaches. Christina is a leader for our times, and I am extremely proud of her."
Faust's commitment and passion for a career in wildlife conservation has been reinforced through her undergraduate research experiences at UGA. She has combined her interests in infectious diseases research and the way ecosystems are affected by completing thesis research on the avian influenza virus through UGA's Odum School of Ecology with a related study through the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Faust was one of 12 students selected internationally to present at the International Wildlife Disease Association Conference in 2007. She also presented twice at UGA's spring undergraduate research symposium sponsored by the Honors Program's Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. She has won several conference awards, including "Outstanding Master's Presentation" at the 2008 Graduate Student Symposium at UGA's Odum School of Ecology.
Faust, who is also the recipient of a Foundation Fellowship, UGA's premier undergraduate scholarship for academically outstanding students, has studied, volunteered and traveled to five continents. Her most recent trip took her to Nanjing, China where she spent three weeks at the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control. Faust is planning to participate in a study abroad program in Antarctica in December.
In addition to her research activities, Faust has been very active in extracurricular activities to promote recycling and other conservation efforts. She helped organize a recycling program with three student clubs during UGA's football home games this season, collecting about four tons of glass and plastic so far. Faust also holds leadership positions with the Go Green Alliance Council and the Sustainable Development Committee of the UGA Ecology Club.
"I am honored to receive the Mitchell Scholarship to continue my studies in Ireland," said Faust, who would also like to complete a Ph.D. in the ecology of infectious diseases. "I hope to approach wildlife health issues from sociological and environmental perspectives in order to develop the most sustainable and effective solutions to our planet's most pressing challenges."
For more information on the Mitchell Scholarship, see http://www.us-irelandalliance.org.
For more information on UGA's Honors Program, see http://www.uga.edu/honors.
Note to editors: A photo of Faust is available for download at http://www.ugaphoto.alumni.uga.edu/news/24428-006.jpg.