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Biology and Geosciences Students Two of Five Students Recognized as Outstanding Master's Graduates

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(source: UL Lafayette News Item: Thu, 05/11/2017)

Five graduate students have been selected as finalists for the Outstanding Master's Graduate designation. Each graduate program can nominate one student for the award, based on leadership, scholarship, service, and research. A committee, led by the dean of the University's Graduate School, selects the top candidates. A UL Lafayette Alumni Association committee interviews each candidate and chooses one as the overall Outstanding Master's Graduate. That person will be recognized during Spring Commencement General Assembly on Friday, May 12, at the Cajundome.

Katrina Hucks is the Outstanding Master's Graduate for the Department of Biology. She has a 3.81 GPA. Her research examined the effects of coastal change, including sea level rise, on five species of birds in coastal Louisiana. As a research assistant in the Department of Biology, she served as an intern with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Agency. Hucks volunteered with the Audubon Society, and assisted in bird sampling and outreach education at Palmetto State Park near Abbeville, La., and at Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center in Baton Rouge, La. She also worked as a camp counselor at a youth camp in her native Oklahoma, where she taught middle-school children about forest ecosystems. Hucks conducted bird surveys for Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon, where she assisted in banding ducks, pelicans and terns. She published four scholarly journal articles, including one as its principal author. She is the daughter of Kerry and Karen Hucks of Oklahoma City, Okla. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

Samuel Ely is the Outstanding Master's Graduate for the School of Geosciences. He has a 4.0 GPA. Ely's thesis focused on the geologic and geochemical compositions of the Millboro Shale, a thick sequence of rocks that holds oil and gas accumulations in West Virginia's Appalachian Mountain basin. He led UL Lafayette's team during the American Association of Petroleum Geologists' Imperial Barrel Award competition, an annual exploration contest for geoscience graduate students. The University's team took first place in both the international and Gulf Coast categories. He is a working geoscientist and has been employed by Cabot Oil and Gas in Pittsburgh, Pa., since 2015. He previously worked as a geologist for Selman and Associates in North East, Pa. He is the son of Dean and Robin Ely of Marietta, Ga. He earned a bachelor's degree in geology from Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., where he played varsity football and varsity lacrosse.

Photo info: Five students who will receive master's degrees during Spring Commencement ceremonies are finalists for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's overall Outstanding Master's Graduate Award. Shown, from left, are: Katie LeLeaux, School of Architecture and Design; Katrina Hucks, Department of Biology; Mas Iwan Konggidinata, Department of Chemical Engineering; and Annalise Walkama, Department of History and Geography. Not pictured is Samuel Ely, School of Geosciences.