Recent Student Achievements

  • Sarah VanderMeer and her map that won GSA's Best Student Geologic Map

    Ph.D. student Sarah VanderMeer wins the Geological Society of America's Best Student Geologic Map Competition at the 2017 annual meeting held in Seattle, Washington!

  • Mohammed Al-Musawi accepts the MGBS annual scholarship

    M.S. student Mohammed Al-Musawi won the 2017 Michigan Basin Geological Society annual scholarship. He is pictured next to John Yellich, Director of the Michigan Geological Survey.

  • A Ph.D. student with his research poster

    Ph.D. student, Abotalib Farag, was a winner at WMU's Research and Creative Activities Poster and Performance Day. He is pictured here next to his research poster, "Evidence for Recent Spring Activity on Mars."

  • A graduate student with his research poster

    Ph.D. student, Matt Rine, also won an award at WMU's Research and Creative Activities Poster and Performance Day for his poster, "The importance of geologic study for the application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Otsego County, Michigan."

The undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Western Michigan University comprise a highly-active scientific community. Not only do students perform innovative research, but they also regularly participate in professional organizations, give presentations, publish their research and successfully compete for awards at the department, University, national and international levels. Below are some of the most recent awards that our accomplished students have earned.

Student news


WMU achievements

  • Jake Tholen (undergraduate)—Presidential Scholar Award
  • Mustafa Emil (Ph.D.), Matthew Hemenway (M.S.)—Graduate College Research and Creative Scholar Award
  • Shelby Hurst (Ph.D.), Danielle Dupuis (M.S.), Alexander Koerber (M.S.), Ziqian Li (M.S.)—Graduate Student Research Awards
  • Mustafa Emil (Ph.D.)—Graduate Student Travel Award
  • Mustafa Emil (Ph.D.), Shelby Hurst (Ph.D.), Hannah Pankratz (Ph.D.)—Research and Creative Activities Poster and Performance Day Award Winners
  • Cameron Manche (Ph.D.), Danielle Dupuis (M.S.)—Department Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Award
  • Cameron Manche (Ph.D.)—All University Graduate Teaching Effectiveness Award
  • Esayas Gebremichael (Ph.D.), Shelby Hurst—Climate Change Research Graduate Scholarship
  • Jake Tholen (undergraduate)—Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Award

External achievements

  • Shelby Hurst (Ph.D.)—West Michigan-Air and Waste Management Association Scholarship
  • Hannah Pankratz (Ph.D.)—Society of Exploration of Geophysicists (SEG) Grant
  • Karl Backhaus (M.S.)—USGS Ed Map Award
  • Esayas Gebremichael (Ph.D.)—On to the Future Travel Grant (GSA)
  • Mohammed Al Musawi (M.S.)—Michigan Basin Geological Society (MBGS) Annual Scholarship
  • Mohammed Al Musawi (M.S.), Matthew Hemenway (M.S.), Jack Hybza (M.S.), Clayton Joupperi (M.S.), Zaid Nadhim (M.S.)—Second place in the AAPG Imperial Barrel Award Competition
  • Jake Tholen (undergraduate)—Crawford Hydrology Lab Grant
  • Sarah VanderMeer (Ph.D.)—GSA Best Student Geologic Map


WMU achievements

  • Courtney Wright (undergraduate)—Presidential Scholar Award
  • Sarah VanderMeer (Ph.D.), Chanse Ford (M.S.) and Jeff Hudson (M.S.)—Graduate College Research Awards
  • Sarah VanderMeer (Ph.D.) and Abotalib Farag (Ph.D.)—All University Teaching and Research Awards
  • Matt Rine (Ph.D.) and Abotalib Farag (Ph.D.)—Research and Creative Activities Poster and Performance Day Award Winners
  • Sarah VanderMeer (Ph.D.)—Gwen Frostic Dissertation Fellowship
  • Abotalib Farag (Ph.D.)—Graduate College’s Dissertation Completion Fellowship

External achievements

  • Denisha Griffey (Ph.D.)—West Michigan Air and Waste Management Association Scholarship
  • Ben Hinks (M.S.)—Best Student Poster Award at the Institute on Lake Superior Geology conference
  • Matthew Rine (Ph.D.)—2016 Michigan Basin Geological Society Scholarship
  • Matthew Rine (Ph.D.)—2016 American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grants-in-Aid
  • Sarah VanderMeer (Ph.D.)—First place in the Graduate Student Poster Contest at the 2015 AIPG Michigan Section Meeting for her poster, "Surficial Mapping of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan: Indian Town 7.5 Minute Quadrangle"
  • Tom Brubaker (M.S.)—Second place in the Graduate Student Poster Contest at the 2015 AIPG Michigan Section Meeting for his poster, "Mystery of icicle formation: An approach based on stable isotope studies"
  • Elizabeth Palmer (Ph.D.)—Icarus published her paper, "Dielectric Properties of Asteroid Vesta's Surface as Constrained by Dawn VIR Observations"


WMU achievements

  • Kathryn Hillenbrand (undergraduate)—Presidential Scholar Award
  • Katie Dvorak (Ph.D.), Ben Hinks (M.S.), Tom Brubaker (M.S.), Chanse Ford (M.S.) and Andrew Sasso (M.S.)—Graduate Student Research Grants
  • Racha El Kadiri (Ph.D.)—All-University Graduate Research and Creative Scholar Award
  • Abdel Mawgoud Mohammed (Ph.D.)—Dissertation Completion Fellowship
  • Richard Dudek (M.A.) and Jonathan Haynes (M.S.)—Graduate Student Research and Travel Awards
  • Abotalib Farag (Ph.D.)—Gwen Frostic Doctoral Fellowship

External achievements

  • Abotalib Farag (Ph.D.)—The GSA's On To the Future Travel Award
  • Abotalib Farag (Ph.D.)—Farouk El-Baz Student Research Grant from the GSA for his project, "Did Groundwater Processes Shape the Sahara Landscape During the Quaternary?"
  • Jake Tholen (undergraduate)—Honorable mention by The Goldwater Scholarship foundation
  • Matt Rine (Ph.D.)—Best Graduate Student Poster by the Great Lakes Section of the Society for Sedimentary Geology for his poster, “Evaluating the Sequence Stratigraphic Relationships, Lithofacies and Petrophysical Properties of the Silurian (Niagaran) Reefs for the Purpose of CCUS and EOR in the Michigan Basin”
  • Racha El Kadiri (Ph.D.)—American Geophysical Union Travel Grant
  • Anthony Boxleiter (M.S.)—Eisenbrey Travel Award
  • Abdel Mawgoud Mohammed (Ph.D.)—The GSA’s Farouk El-Baz International Student Research Award
  • Abotalib Farag (Ph.D.)—The GSA’s Research Grant
  • Abdel Mawgoud Mohammed (Ph.D.)—The GSA’s Travel Grant
  • Matt Rine (Ph.D.)—The Michigan AIPG meeting’s first place student poster
  • Lamees Mohammed (Ph.D.)—IMAGIN’s Jim Living Scholarship
  • Sarah VanderMeer (Ph.D.)—Michigan Basin Geological Society Scholarship
  • Abdel Mawgoud Mohammed (Ph.D.) and Lamees Mohammed (Ph.D.)—National Association of Black Geoscientists Scholarship
  • Lamees Mohammed (Ph.D.)—The SEG/Exxon Mobil Travel Grant
  • Ben Hinks (M.S.)—The SEG’s McKinstry Fund Grant
  • Matt Rine (Ph.D.)—The Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts’ first place award for the student oral competition at the 56th annual symposium
  • Jonathan Haynes (M.S.)—SEG's Student Research and Eisenbrey Travel Award
  • Denisha Griffey (Ph.D.)—Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges