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Student gets scholarship, doing research in Brazil

May 20, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University student has received an important paper engineering scholarship and has been accepted into a nanotechnology research and study abroad project in Brazil.

Margaret E. Gerhart of Montague, Mich., was awarded the 2008 TAPPI Paper and Board Division Scholarship Award, but needed financial support to attend the TAPPI conference to receive it herself. The WMU Department of Paper Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Imaging covered the hotel costs, while the WMU Paper Technology Foundation paid for airfare.

Founded in 1915 as the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, TAPPI is the world's largest professional association serving the pulp, paper, converting and packaging industries. Gehart attended PaperCon '08, TAPPI's conference and trade fair May 4-7 in Dallas.

"This was the first conference I've attended," Gerhart says. "I'm so thankful for the support from the department and foundation to allow me to attend."

Gerhart now is waiting for her study abroad project to begin. Nanotechnology research is a new technological breakthrough that can be applied to many different fields. The program Gerhart will participate in consists of two parts. Participants will spend four weeks in Kalamazoo learning about the culture of Brazil and the nanotechnology research project. Several Brazilian students will work with students here. Then students will spend five and one-half weeks in Sao Carlos at a premier engineering university, Universidade Federal Sao Carlos.

"I'm excited to be able to participate in this research project," Gerhart says. "This will be my first time visiting Brazil, so it really is a double bonus for me. This will be a fantastic experience and allow me to focus in on my primary goals--academically and personally--to gain cultural awareness through education and to gain experience in research."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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