Graduate student wins fellowship

A graduate student within the College of Science, Engineering and Technology was awarded a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation on March 30.

Scot Peterson, who was awarded the fellowship researches the biodiversity of degraded western streams.

He will be conducting experiments that will allow land managers to better restore the stream and the surrounding watershed.

The High Lonesome Ranch in Dubuque, Colo., where the research is being conducted, Murray State’s Watershed Studies Institute and CSET fund his work.

The fellowship, which is only awarded to 10 percent of applicants throughout the country, will provide Peterson with three years of financial support, including salary and tuition.

Peterson received his undergraduate degree in biology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., worked for several years as a research technician at the university before coming to Murray State and has co-written seven publications.

Scot has given multiple presentations at numerous Universities over his research.

“Most of the publications looked at the before-and-after effect of amphibian decline in stream communities,” he said.

He said the reason for his decision to begin his graduate research at Murray State was because of the programs the college had already established.

He said he also liked the resources available to the students, such as the Hancock Biological Station.

His initial studies were in biology geared toward the pre-medical field.

During his last semester at SIU he took a freshwater invertebrates class on a whim and said he fell in love with the conservation and study of streams and surrounding watershed. The class experience led ultimately to his extensive research in the field.

Howard Whiteman, professor and director of the Watershed Studies Institute, said the award not only speaks volumes about the quality of research Peterson is conducting, but it is also a sign Murray State’s graduate programs in science are improving.

He said a student at Murray State has never received this award.

“Historically this award goes to students working on their Ph.D’s instead of those working on a master’s degree,” he said.

He said it was a huge surprise to have a student at this University receive an award of this magnitude, but he said if anyone deserved it, it was Peterson.

Whiteman said in early 2011, he interviewed for a graduate assistant and out of 80 applications, Peterson was the most qualified by far.

“It was a no-brainer decision,” he said. “He knew how and what to do from the start.”

Whiteman said Peterson has done nothing but thrive at Murray State as an outstanding student.