This fall former Freshman Research Scholar Sam Wallace, an environmental science major from Prosper, TX, was awarded an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Greater Research Opportunity (GRO) Fellowship for Environmental Study, which provides up to $48,900 of academic and internship funding over the life of the two-year fellowship. The GRO Undergraduate Fellowship program is part of the EPA’s national effort to help ensure that the United States meets its current and projected human resource needs in the environmental science, engineering, and policy fields.
From his early start in the FRS program, Sam has worked closely with researchers Dr. Tyson Ochsner and Bethany Scott in the Soil Physics lab at OSU, where he analyzes data collected from Oklahoma’s Mesonet—a network of automated weather stations designed to observe mesoscale meteorological phenomena. Taking some time away from his busy schedule, Sam was gracious enough to answer some questions about his research experience as an undergraduate at OSU:
What is the primary problem your research attempts to address?
My primary focus centers on water resources availability. I am currently undertaking a research project that aims to measure groundwater resources with the Oklahoma Mesonet; I’m just trying to play a very small part in ensuring water availability for future generations of Oklahomans.
How will the GRO Fellowship impact your current and future research plans?
The GRO Fellowship should only further fuel my ambition and allow me to continue a strong undergraduate research focus. The added experience in undergraduate research also has me beginning to think about graduate school.
How did your participation in the FRS program contribute to your success?
My participation in the Freshman Research Scholars program played an integral part in my introduction to research and built a solid foundation for my understanding of the discipline. My faculty mentor, Dr. Tyson Ochsner, is like most faculty at OSU—more than willing to guide a student through a problem and share their passion of their field of study with interested students.
What advice do you have for students just beginning their research at OSU?
Be flexible in your plans, open to new ideas, passionate in your field of study, and most importantly, never give up.
What would you say to someone who thinks freshmen are not ready to take on university-level research?
I would argue that there’s a lot of evidence at OSU to the contrary, and that what freshman lack in experience, they make up for in wide-eyed enthusiasm and eagerness to gain new knowledge.