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Students receive Subaru Minority Student Scholarship

BOONE— Hehewutei Amakali, a junior geology major at Appalachian State University, has received a $1,500 scholarship from the Subaru Minority Student Scholarship Program. The scholarship is presented in partnership with the Geological Society of America. (GSA) and includes free registration to the GSA Annual Meeting held in November in Denver, Colo.

The award encourages minority students to continue studies in the geosciences as a possible degree choice.

This scholarship is awarded to only six students each year, one from each of the six geographic regions of the United States. Appalachian has had two students receive the award since it was established in 2008. The first was Adrianna Rajkumar, a senior geology major.

Amakali and Rajkumar received the GSA’s Southeastern Section Award in recognition of their academic excellence and their plans to further their careers in the geosciences.

Amakali, a Native American from the Black Hills area of South Dakota, is studying economic minerals such as lead and zinc sulfides in the Shady Dolomite in the Austinville-Ivanhoe district in Virginia. She plans to use a variety of geochemical tracers in conjunction with geological structures such as faults and fractures to model the ore system and predict where additional minable ore is located.

“A major problem with any mineral exploration and extraction is how devastating it is to the environment. For indigenous cultures, especially in the upper Midwest, New Zealand, South America and Central America, it is really devastating to the spiritual relationship that these communities have with the land,” she said.

The award will help purchase software and equipment that will aid her work.

“My hope is that working with computer modeling, we can reduce the environmental impacts and negative implications of mineral extraction while at the same time bolster productivity and accuracy of the mining itself,” Amakali said. If the modeling works, it could correlate to similar deposits elsewhere in the world. Her research is directed by Dr. Sarah Carmichael.

“I chose to work with geology because generations from now, I want my children’s children to see and know the land I have known,” Amakali said. “Being a Native American and a geologist, it’s interesting to look at the science and intricacies involved in creating these landforms while having a spiritual connection to the land itself.”

“This department works hard to recruit high quality students and to mentor them so they can work to their highest potential,” said department chair Dr. Johnny Waters. “The Subaru Awards reflect our commitment to all students, not just the traditional science student populations. We take pride in their achievement.”

Rajkumar, originally from the West Indies, is conducting research with Dr. Rick Abbott. They are studying Jamaica’s Plantain Garden Fault to better understand earthquake mechanisms

in the region. The fault is part of the same fault system that was responsible for the Haiti earthquake in January.

Rajkumar became interested in a career in geology after taking a class in the Department of Geology. “I took an introduction to geology class with Dr. William Anderson and he got me really interested in the subject. “I hope to return to the Caribbean and possibly teach there, she said. “Professors in the geology department have greatly encouraged and inspired me to continue my education and I would like to pass this encouragement on to others.”

Rajkumar plans to attend graduate school after earning her undergraduate degree from Appalachian, possibly at the University of Sydney in Australia where she studied abroad spring semester.

“We are very proud of these young women because they are outstanding students, and because their success is indicative of the commitment to mentoring a diverse student population in geology,” said Cynthia Liutkus, an assistant professor in the Department of Geology and who nominated the students for the award.