Katie Schoenberger, a third-year environmental science student in the UF School of Natural Resources and Environment, is the 2022 recipient of the Jim Roberts Scholarship. The award recognizes a student’s ethical work on environmental problems. The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) administers the scholarship, named for a long-time member and past president of the group.
“This is a great honor for me, and the issue of environmental ethics is so important,” Schoenberger said. “Scientists usually want to do what is best for the environment, but it may not be what is best for everyone. This dilemma is found almost everywhere in the environmental field.”
The scholarship application required students to write an essay reflecting on how their “education and experience to this point supports ethical work on environmental problems.” Schoenberger’s essay highlighted her course work and a project on environmental racism. She also wrote about the ethics of water quality, which she has considered as part of her fieldwork as a laboratory technician in the UF Urban Ecosystems and Ecology Lab.
A.J. Reisinger, assistant professor in the UF/IFAS soil and water sciences department, is the principal investigator for the lab. He says Schoenberger has a passion for water quality issues and is an integral part of the lab.
“In addition to doing her part to keep the lab running smoothly in day-to-day operations, Katie assists the graduate students with their research and does so enthusiastically,” Reisinger said. “She’s also begun work on her own undergraduate research project.”
“I am conducting a nutrient uptake experiment with my mentor, Adam Siders, to compare the relative bioavailability of urea versus ammonium in the water column of a local urban stream,” Schoenberger explained. “This project is relevant now because urea is the most widely used fertilizer and the use of any fertilizer comes with its own set of ethical issues.”
With one more year to go before earning her bachelor’s degree, Schoenberger is already thinking about graduate school. She hopes to stay at UF and pursue a master’s degree in the soil and water science department.
“The Jim Roberts Scholarship from the NAEP will help with my undergraduate research project and my overall undergraduate experience,” she said. “I greatly appreciate the Association’s support.”