2023 Biology Awards Presented at Bridgewater College

A gold and red graphic that has the Bridgewater College seal and reads "College Awards: Honoring Outstanding Students"

Bridgewater College’s Department of Biology and Environmental Science has recognized four seniors for their accomplishments in their department.

Allison O’Brien and Caroline Warren received Excellence in Biology awards. The award is presented to graduating seniors who place in the top 10% of the class as determined by grade point average (GPA) within the biology major. O’Brien also received the Excellence in Environmental Science award for placing in the top 10% of the class as determined by GPA within the environmental science major.

O’Brien, a biology and environmental science double major from Owings, Md., is president of the TriBeta biological society and a member of the Alpha Chi national honor society, the Philomathes Society and Flory Fellows honors program. She is also a member of the Environmental Science Club and a volunteer in the Virginia Master Naturalist Program, a statewide organization of volunteers that offers education, outreach and service in support of local natural resources and landscapes.

On campus, O’Brien is a laboratory assistant, greenhouse caretaker, academic coach and environmental science tutor. She has served as a residential advisor and was a member of the Bridgewater cheerleading team.

During her time at BC, she completed several research projects including “Harmonic Radar Tracking of the Queensland Fruit Fly” and “Water Quality Parameters as Indicators of Axolotl Metabolism.” O’Brien also co-authored an article titled “Characterization of Streptomyces nymphaeiformis sp. nov., and its taxonomic relatedness to other polyhydroxybutyrate-degrading streptomycetes” published in March 2022 in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

After graduation, O’Brien will be working as a Maryland State Park seasonal ranger. Afterward, she will work for the U.S. Forest Service at Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Seattle doing fisheries and stream assessment and restoration.

Warren, a biology major with a crime and justice minor from Dunn Loring, Va., is a member of the Alpha Chi honor society, Philomathes Society, TriBeta honor society and Flory Honors program. She is also team manager of the National College Equestrian Association (NCEA).

During her time at BC, she completed a research project titled “The Negative Effect of Criminal Labeling on Reentry Efforts in the Harrisonburg Area.” After graduation, she plans to gain clinical experience before attending a physician assistant program.

Trevor Brooks, an environmental science and political science double major from Annapolis, Md., received the Outstanding Research in Environmental Science Award, presented for the best undergraduate research in environmental science.

Brooks is president of the Environmental Science Club and is a member of the Alpha Chi honor society, Philomathes Society, Flory Honors and Pi Sigma Alpha, a national political science honor society. He is also an environmental science and biology teaching assistant. Brooks completed two research projects titled “Using Satellites to Map the Urban Heat Island to Inform Harrisonburg and Bridgewater Public Policy” and “The Disconnect Between Urban Heat Islands and Policy and What Localities Can Do About It” which was funded by Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) and The Research Experience @ Bridgewater (TREB), a donor-funded initiative providing support for teams of Bridgewater faculty and undergraduate students to spend the summer in collaborative and creative research.

After graduation, he will attend the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a doctorate degree in urban climate research.

Joseph Wampler, a biology major and music minor from Nokesville, Va., received the Outstanding Research in Biology Award, presented for the best undergraduate research in biology.

Wampler is a member of the Flory Honors program, TriBeta honor society, Alpha Chi national honor society, Philomathes Society and the Pre-health Society, a society for students who are pursuing a career in health-related fields. He is also a member of the Brethren Student Movement and numerous music ensembles including the Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, Screamin’ Eagles Marching Band, Chorale, the Outspoken Praise Band, Concert Choir, the Brass Band and Saxophone Choir.

During his time at BC, he completed three research projects titled “How Human Disturbance Affects Invasive and Native Species in Washington, D.C.,” “Deer in the District: White-Tailed Deer Fawn Densities Support Urban Mammal Paradox in the Nation’s Capital” and “Species and Diseases of Concern in Akagera National Park.”

After graduation, Wampler will begin veterinary school at Cornell University to pursue a career as a wildlife veterinarian.

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