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UW-Eau Claire students receive environmental health scholarships

April 1, 2013
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From left: Greg Nelson, Dr. Robert Nelson and Jeron Jacobson.

EAU CLAIRE — Two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students studying environmental public health have been awarded scholarships from the Wisconsin Environmental Health Association, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the health and well-being of Wisconsin residents by focusing on environmental and public health issues.

Senior Greg Nelson, Oconomowoc, who also is majoring in biology; and junior Jeron Jacobson, Burnsville, Minn.; were recognized at the WEHA Spring Educational Conference March 12 in Plover.

Nelson, who received the $1,500 Wayne Kopp Memorial/WEHA Academic Scholarship, said "I am nothing short of honored to receive this award. It is incredibly encouraging to hear my professional community tell me that the work I am doing is important."

Nelson also is involved with the Student Office of Sustainability, a Student Senate commission that distributes student segregated fees for sustainability initiatives at UW-Eau Claire.

Dr. Crispin Pierce, associate professor of environmental public health, said Nelson has demonstrated competence across disciplines with his double major.

"His research in my lab evaluating frac sand air quality concerns balances his study of natural ecosystems and service in the Student Office of Sustainability," Pierce said.

Nelson said he plans to attend graduate school to pursue a doctorate in ecology so that he can better understand the intersection of humanity and the natural world.

"Environmental health has been paramount in advancing health of people at large," Nelson said. "Understanding and implementing sanitation practices continues to be one of the greatest advances in the health fields for developed nations and remains a benchmark for those developing. As we look toward our future, there is no greater concern than maintaining the integrity of our natural environment as our health is inextricably linked with the health of these natural systems."

Jacobson received the $1,500 Robert R. Nelson/WEHA Environmental Health Scholarship, which recognizes a UW-Eau Claire junior or senior for outstanding academic achievement, dedication and commitment to the field of environmental public health. The award is named for Dr. Robert R. Nelson, UW-Eau Claire professor emeritus of allied health professions, who was the first full-time environmental public health instructor at UW-Eau Claire.

"It's a true testament to showing what hard work and dedication to your field can bring to you," Jacobson said. "I appreciate how this scholarship recognizes Dr. Nelson's legacy in the environmental public health program."

Pierce said Jacobson is deserving of the award because of his academic accomplishments. "(Jacobson) has demonstrated leadership in the classroom, often answering the most difficult questions I ask of students," Pierce said.

Jacobson said in the future he hopes to work as an industrial hygienist, someone who trains and protects people who work in environments that can be potentially hazardous.

"I believe environmental health is essentially the starting point for living healthy lives," Jacobson said. "It's important that we educate the public to garner greater efforts in making where we live better and more sustainable in general. Environmental health is the cornerstone of managing our natural resources and minimizing risks of harming the planet. Progressing toward this mentality is, in the long run, crucial."

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